Danny Green has thrilled Australian audiences for more than a decade.
The rugged former light heavyweight titleholder and current cruiserweight standout has long been one of the most popular fighters in his homeland. When speaking to the 40-year-old veteran it’s easy to see why. Green is fearless inside the ring with a fan friendly style, and outside the ring he’s gregarious, amusing and also humble.
Nicknamed “The Green Machine,” he debuted in mid-2001 as a super middleweight after competing in the 2000 Olympics. Early on, his power was evident, as he blitzed his way through his first 16 opponents all inside the distance. He was able to parlay that run into a WBC title crack at Markus Beyer. He dropped Beyer in each of the first two rounds before the fight was stopped due to head butts which had caused Beyer to bleed profusely. The contest was ruled a disqualification loss. Unperturbed, Green took to the road again and this time he wasn’t to be denied as he bashed up popular Canadian veteran Eric Lucas in six rounds just four months later to win the WBC’s interim title. He was made to wait over a year for a return with Beyer again losing this time by the slimmest of margins in a distance bout.
After two comeback wins he took on fellow Aussie Anthony Mundine in a grudge match that at that time broke PPV records in Australia and made both combatants vast sums of money. Despite a strong start Green tired and lost a wide decision, though he remained relevant over the next 18 months with stoppage wins over middle-of-the-road opposition before finally achieving his ultimate goal when he beat Stipe Drews for the WBA light heavyweight title, winning comfortably on points. A few months later he stunned the Australian boxing public by announcing his retirement with immediate effect. However, it proved to be more a hiatus as 18 months later the lure of the ring became too great and he returned.
After a couple of wins he met ring legend Roy Jones Jr.
In the opening round Green dropped Jones before pummelling away and forcing a stunning stoppage, though Jones complained about a myriad of things after the fight. While Jones was light years from his prime, it was still a very good win for Green. Since then Green’s popularity has grown and he continued to perform. After three more wins, including one over Paul Briggs which finished in a farcical one-round stoppage scene and a unanimous decision over unbeaten BJ Flores, Green took on another boxing great in Antonio Tarver. Despite a valiant attempt he was stopped in the ninth stanza. Instead of taking smaller fighters and continuing his career in safe fashion, Green showed his character just four months later by bringing Poland’s WBC champ Krzysztof Wlodarczyk to Australia. A fast start took Green into the lead, which he maintained until out of nowhere Wlodarczyk landed a debilitating left hook that took him out in the penultimate round. Green has since won two bouts, the latest over Shane Cameron, who was formerly a noted heavyweight prospect. At the time of writing, Green (33-5, 28 stoppages) hadn’t announced his next fight. He’s currently ranked No. 13 by the IBF and No. 11 by the WBO at cruiserweight.
Anson Wainwright: You outpointed Shane Cameron in Melbourne last November to win the vacant IBO cruiserweight title. Tell us about the fight?
Danny Green: It was a grueling 12-round battle against Shane, who was five years younger and very hungry in his first world title fight. He was the number nine ranked heavyweight, as well as the current Commonwealth cruiserweight champion, so his size was an advantage they thought he could capitalize on. What they underestimated was my strength, especially inside where I dictated and steered the action. Our game plan worked a treat. He started really well, moving nicely and flowing, so I changed up the action to plan B, went inside, walked him back and proceeded to bully the supposed bully. Full credit to Shane, he never stopped coming and I avoided a few KO shots that he timed nicely, only narrowly missing. Shane really came prepared. Packed house in Melbourne, it was a thrilling night and the crowd really got bang for their buck!
AW: What would you like to do next? What are your plans for 2013?
DG: No plans as of yet. I was pretty stoked to win back the title I lost, and after two KO losses in my prior three bouts to Cameron, it was really satisfying to put on an old fashioned brawl for my supporters and reclaim the world title.
AW: In an interview with Daniel Geale, he told me that the Australian market was a tough one to crack and that both you and Anthony Mundine have for a long time dominated that market. Would you say this was fair? What is your secret?
DG: Like Americans, Australians appreciate a fighter that is all aggression, power, and takes on all comers. Europeans like the technical, more point-scoring style of fighting. Aussies love to see a guy go out and take no prisoners! Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but when you grab hold of your figs and let the punches go, the crowds will flock. I’m very proud to have personally promoted, and fought in both of the biggest bouts in Australian boxing history. Since 2002, I have sold out venues Australia wide and had great pay-per-view success, so I guess the punters like my style, thankfully. There is no secret, it’s about dipping in your pockets, taking a risk, bringing world champions and superstars to our shores and pitting yourself against them.
AW: You lost to Antonio Tarver in 2011, but recently the two of you had a war of words on twitter, could you elaborate on that?
DG: Talk’s cheap but when he had a dig I responded. Pretty simple, really. We fought. He won. He then fought again and tested positive to steroids. He must have lost over 20kg (44 pounds) in eight weeks prior to our bout and was not tested. You didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to suspect he lost a lot of weight in a dramatically short time and got stronger the longer the fight went. You be the judge.
So I just had some fun on Twitter after he said he would whip both me and Cameron by saying “cool bring your bag of steroids / only fight you will ever have again is on play station / busted!!!” I don’t care if he was on the gear against me, he is the one who now has to live with a tarnished reputation, eternally, and the way I look at it, if I had a good night instead of a shocker, the juice would have allowed me to beat him up longer! Regardless, Antonio threw some lovely punches that night.
AW: Just over year ago you met Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, you were ahead in the fight but he came back and stopped you late, could you tell us about that fight?
DG: Oh that was so close to a fairy tale victory after being stopped by Tarver four months earlier. People intimated that I was gone after Tarver, which is crazy. Boxing is the only sport where a fighter gets beaten and then the whole world dumps on him. So I decided, after what myself and my trainer, Angelo Hyder, felt was a bad night, to take on an even tougher challenge, the two-time champ and reigning WBC champ, Wlodarczyk. He is a natural cruiser. I’m stuck between 175 and 200 pounds. Too big for 175, took small for 200. I had no place taking on these big men at this level, but I had no choice. Starve and suck down to 175 or take on the big boys. Or, give it away. I was weighing in under the limit, with a belly full of fluid and food, then by fight night I was weighing 191 pounds max compared to his 212-214. Wlodarczyk is a tank, and can whack, and is very strong. No one gave me a hope. I was in superb condition and ready to take him. Round five I nearly had him out of there. By round ten he needed a knockout to win, it was a shutout; 20 seconds to go in round 11, after dominating, he hit me flush on the chin with a beautiful left hook. It was like a trapdoor flew open and my legs just vanished from beneath me. I’m proud to say I beat the count but I was in no shape to continue. It was over. Just like that. That’s the game, man.
AW: Let’s talk about the cruiserweight division and the other current champions, the WBA titleholder Denis Lebedev, the IBF and RING champ Yoan Pablo Hernandez and the WBO beltholder Marco Huck?
DG: It’s a tight bunch, some really good fighters in there. Huck is a strong dude, aggressive. Hernandez is big and slick. Wlodarczyk is a beast. (Steve) USS Cunningham has moved to heavyweight but he was menacing and imposing at cruiser; yeah I like all those guys. I’ve got great respect for them. I wish the cruiserweight limit hadn’t gone up to 200 (laughs)! Those guys are monsters. I also wish these guys great success.
AW: You’re from Perth, Australia. Could you tell us about your youth growing up?
DG: Perth is a pretty small city, one of the most isolated cities in the world. It’s a beautiful place, laid back with the great contrasts of a rugged and pristine coastline and the isolation of the outback only hours apart. I grew up surfing at the beach, having fun with my mates and chasing girls. We never rode kangaroos to school if that’s what you’re asking (laughs).
AW: How did you first become interested in and then take up boxing?
DG: I loved boxing the first time I saw it on TV. (Muhammad) Ali, (Thomas) Hearns, (Roberto) Duran, (were) my favourite fighters. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to do what they did. (I was) hooked straight away. I didn’t have my first amateur fight till I was 18, after doing karate since I was 12. Then I had a few kickboxing fights before I took up my real love of fighting, boxing.
AW: Through out your career you have met some very good boxers. Who would you say are the best in certain areas? Best overall, toughest, strongest, best puncher?
DG: Roy Jones was the best overall fighter as far as a name goes without doubt. His sportsmanship and humility in defeat after I took him out in the first round was nothing short of disgraceful. He fought Hopkins after that and went 12 rounds, and was supposed to have a field day with me as a tune up, so he couldn’t handle defeat and has historically followed a pattern of excuses following a loss, but he got smoked fair and square! Very satisfying. The toughest was this hard nut from Argentina, Julio Cesar Dominguez. I hit him flush a lot and finally put him away in the fifth but man he was an animal for punishment. Strongest and best puncher was Wlodarczyk. BJ Flores was a quick, athletic guy with a lot of skill but needs to back himself.
AW: Tell us about your life away from boxing, what do you enjoy doing?
DG: I love surfing so I try to go away and get waves with my brother and mates as much as time permits with a young family. My 5-year-old son loves fishing and a few weeks ago we caught a two meter Tiger Shark which blew his mind. My daughter is into competitive swimming so watching her compete is a real thrill.
Staying fit, hanging with my family and mates, barbecues and cold beers; life’s pretty simple when this combination all rolls smoothly into one.
AW: In closing do you have a message for the rest of the cruiserweight division?
DG: I’ve never been one for big statements, and I respect all my fellow pugilists, so my message is stay safe, stay cool, and I wish you guys peace, luck and prosperity.
Photos / Quinn Rooney-Getty Images, Cameron Spencer-Getty Images, Torsten Blackwood-AFP