I’m walking through Adelaide’s Rundle Street Mall with Danny Green and members of the Green Machine’s Team.
Judging by the reaction of passers-by you’d swear everyone in the so-called City of Churches is desperate to see his blood rival Anthony Mundine go down for the count when they fight later this week.
Mundine has infuriated the Australian public by announcing he’ll refuse to stand for what he calls the country’s “racist” national anthem before the bout. However, despite the outpouring of anger in the voices of the old women and young men urging him to punish his foe, Green insists ‘hatred’ won’t be a personal motivation in the pair’s long awaited rematch.
The former world champion lost to Mundine 11-years-ago in a fight where he struggled to make the super middleweight limit.
The dieting and other tactics he endured to make 76 kilos – including boiling himself in a bathtub full of steaming hot water to melt any fat he may have accumulated during the day despite being on starvation rations – took such a toll on Green’s frame he entered the ring with his body fat at a dangerously low three percent, and had a doctor in the crowd watching to ensure he didn’t go into “meltdown”.
The Western Australian was spent of all energy after the opening round, a frenzied three minutes in which he threw everything he had to try and knock Mundine out because that was his best chance of winning the fight.
While Green admitted he couldn’t have “bruised a grape” that night at the Sydney Football Stadium it was considered a victory of sorts that he finished what was billed by the media as the biggest fight in Australian boxing history on his feet.
While Mundine won the bout by a unanimous decision he has taunted Green in the lead up to Friday’s fight at iconic Adelaide Oval by describing him as ‘arrogant and aloof’; an ‘RSL fighter’ and ‘the Kayne West of boxing’.
Green is quick to admit he plans to destroy Mundine in what is expected to be the farewell to arms for both gladiators, but insisted he doesn’t need to draw upon hatred to achieve his aim.
“I don’t have to call upon anything,” Green tells me. “I know I’m a better fighter than Mundine and my resume reflects that."
“I’m proud to say fighters around the world know my name; they know who I am."
“Mundine doesn’t have that international credibility because I’ve won and lost to a lot of big name fighters. I’ve fought overseas, I won titles and lost titles ... I have that credibility."
“I don’t need to hate someone to beat them ... I don’t like losing a game of cards to my brother."
"Mundine and me, we don’t see eye-to-eye."
"He’s said some disgusting things over the years – things that were false – and he continues to fabricate false and ludicrous statements.”
Mundine’s latest announcement – that he’d refuse to stand when pop star Jessica Mauboy sings Australia’s national anthem before the fight because he considers Advance Australia Fair “racist” – created outrage, but Green has refused to allow the controversy to distract him.
“I’m just one of 24 million people in this country and it’s not my issue to worry about that, my issue is to focus on the fight,” Green said after a public work out in Adelaide’s Rundle Street Mall.
“I know I’ll be standing and I’ll be singing the national anthem."
“I’m not surprised, he’s said it before."
"Like I’ve said, I’m not invested in Anthony Mundine enough to care [about] what he says."
"If my mate said something that pissed me off then I’d care about it because I care about them and I’m emotionally attached to them."
"If I’m not emotionally attached to someone I don’t care what they say, it’s not my business unless it affects me. [Mundine] doesn’t really affect me."
“I’ve been raised to be open-minded and ‘Choc’ is an indigenous Australian, so there’s been a lot of talk about this."
"If he feels so passionate and strongly about [not standing for the anthem] then so be it, that’s his prerogative. That’s his opinion and he’s allowed to have an opinion."
"Like I said, I’ll be standing for the anthem and I’ll be singing the national anthem.”
In a week where Green has constantly been asked about his legacy as a fighter, he stressed his fight against Mundine won’t define a career which stems back to a wild old night in 1992, when he stepped into the ring for the first time dressed in board shorts and sandshoes.
The Green Machine, who was then a skinny 19-year-old apprentice carpenter, stunned everyone at the old Midland Town Hall on the outskirts of Perth when he unloaded 15 unanswered shots in the third round to defeat Milos Radovich – a heavily-tattooed, goatie-bearded bruiser who’d forged a reputation in the Western Australian Amateur ranks as a KO merchant.
“What I appreciated most of all that night was the primal challenge of man against man is what fighters of all levels crave when they pull the gloves on,” Green recalled of his first blood.
That victory over Radovich set the tone for a career which resulted in Green punching his way to world title victories, and, just as importantly, inspiring his countrymen by his actions outside of the boxing arena.
Who could forget his effort in 2006 to charge into treacherous surf south of Perth to rescue 22-year-old Matt Alford, who was saying what he feared were his final prayers, as the boxer sprinted through the crowd that was watching on helplessly as the waves constantly dragged Alford beneath the surface.
Green’s efforts to combat the coward punches in pubs and clubs that have destroyed young lives and shattered families around the nation, by funding his own one-punch television campaign to try and end the violence, has been hailed by everyone from state premiers to mothers as the act of an athlete using his profile to make a difference.
There’s also countless charities around Australia that have benefited from calling upon Green’s clout to help raise desperately needed funds for their cause.
As Mundine threatened during the week to “butcher” Green’s face, the Perth power-puncher dismissed any suggestion this fight would define the triumphs and heartbreak he’s endured over the last quarter of a century.
“I’m not defined by one fight."
"I’m not defined by Roy Jones; I’m not defined by Eric Lucas, Stipe Drews . . . I’m not defined by [Krzysztof] Wlodarczyk or Shane Cameron or Antonio Tarver or Marcus Beyer."
"No, I’m not defined by any of them just as I won’t be defined by Mundine."
“If I was defined by the Roy Jones fight I’d be a one punch knock out artist."
"I’m defined by everything I put into ALL of my fights."
"I’m defined by my first [professional] fight against Waqa Kolivuso to my last one against Kane Watts."
"I’d like to be defined by what people have seen over my whole career."
“Guys who know boxing, like [respected boxing aficionado] Dino Billinghurst, would be able to define my career better than 99 percent of the public because Dino knows the sport."
"He’s been through it, he knows the ins-and-outs of the game."
"He could define it because he’s watched me train, he knows how I prepare, he’s seen me fight and he’s seen me win and seen me lose."
“However, the average punter forms their opinion from what they read in the paper, sees on the news or what he hears from someone yapping down the pub."
"Perhaps the worst thing [for any fighter] about being defined that way is it’s by people who don’t know what you’ve gone through.”
Green, 43, is two-years-older than Mundine but his chiselled physique proves he’s honest when he says the campaign for what some have called his ‘redemption bout’ has been tough.
“No-one will ever be able to accuse me of not putting 100 percent into my fights or my preparation, and this fight is absolutely no different.”
“In fact my hunger, my desire, my work ethic and my professionalism is equal to when I fought [future Hall of Famer] Roy Jones Jnr – and that was seven years ago."
“My desire, hunger and professionalism is the same and my family and friends will tell you that."
"They’ve said they don’t need to worry about why I’m having this fight – they can see it – but they also realise I love what I’m doing and that I’m a professional."
“I’m a fighter, I'm a bloke dying to have a fight ... I’ve remained active since I came back in 2009."
"I had a two-year break after I fought [world rated Kiwi heavyweight] Shane Cameron, I never stopped fighting, I never stopped training ... I’ve always been active, I’ve always been sparring and, as of late, they’ve been much younger opponents and much heavier opponents."
“For once [in Mundine] I’m fighting a guy who is my age. I haven’t had that for a while."
"While I haven’t been fighting world champions I’ve been fighting decent opponents – decent enough to be solid, strong opposition and they’ve been very, very competitive.”
While Green won’t pepper his last hurrah with hate and bile, he did have one challenge for his arch rival.
“I’m an old school fighter, he’s a boxer.”
“Let’s see if Mundine has the balls to stand ‘n fight.”
- Daniel Lane, exclusively for Sportsta.