Sparring in the carpark with world champ Danny Green
A funny thing happened on the way out of the glamorous Punch TV studios yesterday. As we stood in the carpark waiting for Penbo to remember where he’d left the Commodore, a heavy-looking dude called out: “Oy, what’s this show The Punch and how come I’m not on it?”
It was world cruiserweight champion Danny Green, stepping out of the shadows with his hand extended and a mischievous grin spreading across his face.
We explained that despite Penbo and Tors being, ahem, avid fight fans, it was in fact a politics and current affairs show (although I reckon there’s a spot for Greeny on the panel somewhere down the track.)
The mood was upbeat until we got around to the topic of the paedophile Dennis Ferguson, whose situation we had just spent a fair slice of the show discussing with Housing Minister Tanya Plibersek.
If Plibersek was hardline about Ferguson being placed in public housing close to schools and families, it was nothing compared to Greeny’s view in the carpark afterwards.
Let’s just say he wasn’t completely on board with the theory that convicted paedophiles have to live somewhere and we should all learn to get along. The words “f……g strung up” and “maggot” were used in varying combinations throughout the exchange.
We left him waiting to be interviewed for his upcoming title fight in Sydney and the encounter was a reminder that Green is a rare kind of world champion. Blokes respect his humility both in and out of the ring and women fell in love with his footwork in Dancing With The Stars, not to mention the Trilby he wore at a rakish angle at all times.
A fighter’s life is a monastic routine of waking up in the dark, training, eating virtually nothing and going to bed.
In most cases they either find God or go totally off the rails, but Green has found a third way. He devotes his time to his wife and two kids, Chloe and Archie, whose faces peer out at you from the tattoos on his bicep and forearm.
His other love is playing practical jokes on his mates – prank calls, whoopee cushions, food fights – anything to relieve the boredom of having to “make weight” between bouts.
In the dysfunctional world of boxing, Green is balanced and, well, normal. This is why he’ll sell out Sydney’s Acer Arena on December 2 for his historic bout against Roy Jones Jnr.
Boxing has become a derelict sport in this country and the only intrigue for fights fans has been which bum Anthony Mundine fights next. But the Green-Jones Jr fight presents a real opportunity to restore pride to a sport that deserves to be taken out of Leagues Clubs and back into big stadiums.
At 40, Jones is well past his best but his disposal of Jeff Lacy in Mississippi suggests there’s plenty of life in the old man.
Green bulked up for his IBO cruiserweight fight against Julio Cesar Dominguez on the Jones undercard in Biloxi and appeared to have lost none of his stamina.
I watched Green spar the Sydney cruiserweight Dominic Vea the week before he left for the Dominguez fight and he was brutal. What separates great fighters from good ones is the ability to control the tempo.
Green battered Vea in rounds one to four, then went to the ropes for a couple before unloading on the poor kid in rounds eight to ten. It was a lesson in discipline and control.
Can he beat Jones Jr? It’s a big ask. Jones is in devastating shape and didn’t get his 54-5 record fighting nobodies. Green would be hard-pressed knocking Jones out but you would never underestimate the impact of a home crowd on a guy like Green.
He’s discovered a whole new audience in recent years and if he survives Jones, Green deserves the chance to avenge his loss to Mundine in their one and only encounter. The question will be whether The Man, who has fought marshmallows ever since, is up to the challenge.
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