Have Comebacks Harmed A Reputation?

Just like his arch rival Anthony Mundine, Danny Green polarises the public. You either love him or you  don’t.

Green has always been a fighter. Mundine has always been a boxer. Many who follow the sport will tell you a boxer will nearly always beat a fighter.

For those who do not follow the sport, the boxer fights using his head, he out-thinks and out-manoeuvres his opponent, switching tactics, and keeping moving.

There are many who will tell you that Green’s career has been in decline since he announced his first retirement in 2008. His bank Balance may say otherwise. Yet when all is said and done most athletes want to be remembered for their sporting achievements not the money they earned. Sadly Danny Green has never achieved as much as he did prior to that first retirement.

Green enjoyed his highest level of support early in his professional career. He had been a popular and successful amateur and turned professional after the Sydney Olympics where at 27 years of age he had been the oldest boxer in the squad.

Within three years he was fighting for a World Title. He fought German Markus Beyer in Germany for  the WBC Super Middleweight Title.  Green floored Beyer in each of the two opening rounds and was ahead on points when the fight was stopped in the fifth.  The American referee Bill Clancy claimed that Green had intentionally head-butted his opponent. His corner claimed that the cut to Beyer that caused the fight to be stopped had been made by an earlier punch. Green was ahead on points and had the cut been caused by a punch he would have won, as it was deemed it was caused by a head butt he was disqualified. Australia at this time felt he was hard done by, and realised that he was a true title contender.

A re-match with Beyer did not eventuate as the Champion was injured so Green fought the man Beyer had defeated Eric Lucas to win the Interim Super Middleweight title. An interim title comes about when for medical, legal or other serious reasons a Champion is unable to defend his title, the sanctioning body has two highly ranked contenders fight for the interim championship of the same weight division. This leads to two champions existing in the same weight division simultaneously. Once the world champion is able to return, he must fight against the interim champion.

After his return to the ring Beyer was upset by Christian Sanavia of Italy in June 2004 and a rematch was scheduled before Green, which Beyer won. Green finally met Beyer in March 2005 to decide who was the true WBC Super Middleweight Champion and he lost again, this time to a majority decision.

A year later he lost the much hyped fight with Anthony Mundine which was a title eliminator for the WBA Super Middleweight title which was held by Mikkel Kessler. Mundine did end up winning the WBA world title when he beat fellow Australian Sam Soliman.

Following his loss to Mundine, Green moved up to the light-heavyweight class and in December 2007 he won the WBA light-heavyweight champion, defeating Croatian Stipe Drews at Challenge Stadium.

Green never defended his title. In March 2008 aged 35 he retired. He was preparing for a mandatory defence of his title at the time.

He told the media at the time “I woke up at 1am Sunday morning with my stomach churning, and it was telling me to hang up my gloves basically. You can imagine I have struggled with the decision as I believe I am at the top of my game and the peak of my career as a professional fighter. I have never gone against my gut feelings and I am not about to start doing that now. There is going to be questions about whether there is anything wrong with me physically, the answer is categorically no. It was almost like I had a premonition, an epiphany – I am not religious by any stretch of the imagination – but I do listen to my stomach and that is what it has told me. I have clarity, it was weird but that is the way it is. I leave with my dignity and my health intact.”

There may have been a few raised eyebrows at the time, but most wished him well in his retirement and the reasons he gave were never questioned. If only he had kept to that decision.

Sadly like so many boxers before him it was not to be the case. In April 2009 he was back in the ring. Four months after his return, and in his second bout he won the IBO Cruiserweight World title. No mean feat, yet the IBO title has the least credo of the sanctioning bodies. The WBC, WBA and IBF titles earn a boxer the most respect with the IBO and WBO ranked a fair way down the pecking order.

In 2004 aged 45 Roy Jones jnr had lost his WBC and WBA world titles and his record to 49 win and 2 losses. He would suffer three more defeats as he tried to reclaim a World Title before he met Danny Green who spectacularly despatched him in the first round. Sadly Jones did not hang up the gloves and still has fights in the pipeline. This was hyped as a great victory, but Jones was a Champion very much on the decline.

Green then beat Manny Siaca who had defeated Anthony Mundine, before he had a farcical fight against Paul Briggs that ended in seconds. Neither were great fights to prepare for Antonio Tarver and he lost his title. He then fought for the WBC Cruiserweight title and was comprehensively beaten by Krzysztof Włodarczyk, the referee stopping the bout in the 11th; the Pole did state that no one had hit him harder.

In 2012 Green won back the IBO Cruiserweight Title when he defeated Shane Cameron in Melbourne, a fighter billed as an “extreme challenge.” He proved far from it, and as he did before, Green announced his retirement before defending his title.

Danny Green may be a nice guy, but when he fought anyone of any quality he ended up on the wrong side of the decision.

It was very sad to hear a few months ago that he had announced yet another comeback. Worryingly for him his original opponent Tomas Kovacs has had to pull out and he now faces Roberto “The Beast” Bolotoni tomorrow. A fighter who has never been knocked out and who has only lost 3 of his 39 bouts.

Danny Green is being billed as a 4 time world boxing champion, yet to many an Interim title does not constitute a World Title. He is a former World Champion. Yet sadly outside of Australia very few have heard of Danny Green such is the alphabet soup of World Boxing. There are now 17 different weight divisions in which a boxer can win a World Title, then there are five accepted sanctioning bodies of which the IBO is the lowest ranked. It is not his fault, but it needs some perspective.

Many have asked the question should the Australian authorities have allowed him to comeback again? The truth is could they honestly have stopped him? After all he is in good health and has kept himself fit.

One hopes that Green comes away from this bout unscathed. He had that premonition ten years ago, and said he never went against his stomach. He has twice. Boxing is a tough sport and those who walk away unscathed and having been World Champions deserve our respect, but those who retire and stay retired deserve even more respect.

Have Comebacks Harmed A Reputation?

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