I Come From A Land Down Under

TQBR’s Senior Australian Correspondent Alex McClintock explains how Roy Jones, Jr.-Danny Green (above big and small, respectively), a fight that looks in America like not much at all, is a whole different animal on the other side of the planet. Just click “read more” for his insightful take. Non-Americanized spellings of words like “criticise” have been retained for authenticity’s sake.  — Tim

Since his losses to Antonio Tarver, Glen Johnson and Joe Calzaghe, Roy Jones Jr. has made a bit of a habit of fighting guys who are not quite on the same page skills wise. Most fight fans and commentators see Danny Green as little more than Jones’ next handpicked victim, and they’d probably be right.

Jones has every conceivable advantage in Wednesday’s fight. Green is far less skilled in every way and much, much slower than the still-quick Jones.

While Jones has fought some big names over the last two decades, Green’s best opponents have been Markus Beyer and Anthony Mundine – both of whom he lost to.

That’s not to say that Green is a total slouch – he was Ring rated at super middleweight for a while and came close to beating Beyer twice. He has a solid chin and a powerful right hand. He’s even got an alphabet belt, even if it is from the IBO and not worth the leather (pleather?) it’s made of. I’d say that “The Green Machine’s” best hope was Jones “aging overnight,” but he’s already done that two or three times and he is still seems to be out of Green’s league.

Here in Australia, though, Green is a household name (one out of two women surveyed in my house knew who he was).

Despite his fairly limited skill set, he’s managed to craft a successful and lucrative career: becoming a major draw in his home town of Perth, coming second in the Australian “Dancing with the Stars” and running his own promotional firm.

A fierce rivalry with Anthony Mundine when the two were both fighting at super middleweight helped propel Green to stardom. Mundine was already a big name here, having played in three Rugby League (yeah, there are two types of Rugby) grand finals for various clubs and representing New South Wales in the State of Origin against Queensland (kind of like the Yankees playing the Red Sox…I think).

Mundine truly is a world class boxer. In a lot of ways, he’s actually a poor man’s RJJ. The problem is, he’s also a massive dick. After the September 11 attacks, he told the media: “It’s about fighting for God’s law, and America’s brought it upon themselves.” Like Roy, he has tried his hand at rap – though the results have been less than spectacular. He also courted more controversy by burning the Union Jack and a picture of then Prime Minister John Howard in a video clip. It doesn’t help that since losing to Mikkel Kessler, he’s basically fought a steady stream of bums (excluding Green and Danny Geale).

Things get a bit weird and Australian-politicky though. Mundine is of Aboriginal descent and hasn’t been shy about criticising governments and other organisations for their lack of effective policy to deal with Aboriginal poverty and welfare (really a massive disgrace). He also converted to Islam at a time when there was a lot of anti Muslim hysteria in Australia (and around the world). While most Australians who dislike Mundine do so because he’s an arrogant blowhard, there is probably also a small segment that dislikes him because he’s an Aboriginal Muslim.

So when it came time for the AUSTRALIAN FIGHT OF THE CENTURY in 2006, a lot of people were pretty keen to see Mundine end up on his arse. Some, no doubt, saw The Green Machine as the “true blue” alternative to the “unaustralian” Mundine.

Green, as usual, entered the ring to the strains of Men at Work’s “I Come From a Land Down Under,” maybe failing to realise the irony in the fact that Mundine’s ancestors came from a Land Down Under a lot longer ago. Despite the high hopes of many, it was Green that ended up getting schooled in a one-sided unanimous decision.

Since then there has been consistent talk of a rematch that has never eventuated. Mundine/Green rematch talk has probably been the aspect of boxing most covered by the mainstream media over the last three years here. Which is kinda sad. Once the Jones Jr. fight is out of the way, I’d expect more talk – the fight is probably the best money that either man can make right now.

So there you go. For the rest of the world, Jones Jr. V Danny Green is just a footnote to the eventual Jones/Hopkins rematch, but for Australian boxing it’s a big deal. If nothing else, it’s got boxing filling newspaper pages (even broadsheets) here – something that not even Manny Pacquiao/Miguel Cotto managed.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.