Ads by Google
Box: Boxing historian plays down Green-Jones hype
Boxing Green (AAP Sportsfeature) By Adrian Warren
SYDNEY, Nov 27 AAP - Next week's clash between Danny Green and Roy Jones Jr looms as a fight for the ages in Australia but it's doubtful whether it can live up to the hype of being the biggest boxing event ever seen in this country.
In the hype leading up to the fight for Green's IBO cruiserweight crown at Acer Arena, all kinds of claims have been made about the historical significance of the contest.
The Green camp have asserted it is the biggest fight ever seen in Australia and that Jones is the finest fighter to ever visit our shores.
American legend Jones, 40 (54-5, 40 KOs) can certainly claim to be the most decorated boxer to enter an Australian ring having won eight world titles across four divisions.
Sydney-based West Australian Green, 36 (27-3, 24 KOs) has won world title belts in three different divisions, a feat only previously achieved by one other Australian, his former trainer Jeff Fenech.
However, as any boxing aficionado or historian will tell you titles are so much easier to come by these days.
For most of the 20th century, there was only one world title and just eight different weight divisions.
Nowadays, boxing has a staggering 17 different divisions and several governing bodies, some of whom are not universally recognised.
"The world titles (nowadays) are a bit like professional wrestling, they are a sporting joke," said Arnold Thomas, boxing historian and curator of the Boxing Hall of Fame at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
It was a very different case back on Boxing Day 1908 when Jack Johnson and Tommy Burns met in Sydney in a heavyweight world title bout regarded by most serious Australian boxing historians as the most important boxing fight ever held in this country.
Johnson became the first black boxer to win the heavyweight world title, and his status gives that fight an historical and social significance that will surely see it remembered as the most significant boxing match every likely to be held in this country.
"The most important fight in Australia was Johnson-Burns," said Thomas.
"That put Australia on the map in many ways more than almost any other event. It made us famous worldwide, particularly in a racist America."
Thomas believed the 1947 clash between Australian legend Vic Patrick and American lightweight world title contender Freddie Dawson in Sydney was another hugely significant fight in the nation's history.
"I think Freddie Dawson and Vic Patrick was an enormous fight as Sydney went into mourning after that, it was such a shock," Thomas said referring to Dawson's 12th round stoppage knockout win at Sydney Stadium.
Thomas rated Dawson as one of the best overseas fighters ever to ply his pugilistic trade in Australia.
Unlike Jones, who will be having his first professional fight outside the United States, Dawson was a well-travelled fighter, who had 21 bouts in Australia alone and won them all.
"He (Dawson) was one of the greatest fighters ever to come here," asserted Frank Maher, the retiring secretary of the Australian National Boxing Hall Of Fame.
(Former light heavyweight world champion Archie Moore) "came out here in the 1940s and fought our best and they couldn't get near him.
"Azumah Nelson (who beat Jeff Fenech in a rematch in Melbourne in 1992) was a great fighter, but I wouldn't put him in the class of Freddie Dawson and Archie Moore."
Both Maher and Thomas described Jones as a great fighter and among the best to have visited Australia.
Thomas said Green-Jones was a very important fight, primarily because of the American's reputation.
"The man (Jones) is magic, in his day he was absolutely brilliant," Thomas said of Jones.
"Green is fighting one of the all time greats I believe, so that's the significance of it, an Australian boxer is taking on someone like that."
Green's much hyped 2006 fight with Anthony Mundine at Sydney Football Stadium probably grossed more than any other fight in Australian boxing history though the figures were never made public.
While the interest of the ubiquitous media ensured it the bout enjoyed a massive profile.
It may have been the highest grossing bout, but historians have poured cold water on suggestions it was the country's most important boxing contest as there was no major title at stake and it attracted little interest abroad.
Boxing experts with long memories will point to equally significant domestic dustups throughout the 20th century while the legendary Les Darcy also participated in some major fights against international opposition in Australia.
Jones's participation next week will guarantee the fight gets global coverage and the television rights fees will ensure both protagonists are handsomely rewarded.
A victory over Jones, even one slightly past his prime, will no doubt have bar room pundits debating where Green belongs in the all-time pantheon of Australian boxers.
That's an argument for another day.