"The Green (Quote) Machine" revs toward April return
By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor
And said fights are usually followed by a handful of colorful quotes that'll dress up a desultory next-morning story.
But topping this deadline-fretting writer's list of pro-Green attributes is another:
The guy returns calls.
Sure, I'll admit that when the phone started ringing at 1:35 a.m. - waking me from fitful old-guy slumber in the Ocala compound - my initial thoughts were closer to "WTF?!?" and "This better not wake the kid!!!" than "Gee, what a great guy that Danny Green is."
But after successfully stumbling past a pitch-black cat and somehow locating my notebook in a darkened kitchen, I quickly became cognizant of how different the Aussie cruiserweight is from his colleagues in this or any other professional sport.
Even on the best days with the most cordial subjects, getting a return call after a voicemail is a risky bet. If it happens, it's often the result of dogged publicist prodding, rather than a busy athlete acting out of the goodness of his/her own heart.
Not surprisingly, the more inconvenient it is for them...the less likely it becomes.
Danny Green is perfect above 168 pounds - 17-0, 13 KOs.
Toss in a 13-hour time difference prior to Sunday's "spring forward" clock change, and it's that much more a pain for someone without a vested interest in the conversation to begin with - especially when international dialing rates apply.
But not only did Green punch up my number on a Sunday afternoon down under, even upon my groggy pick-up he remained chock full of the friendly banter I've stereotyped his countrymen to possess since I giddily unwrapped my first Men at Work album in 1982.
"How ya doin' mate," he bellowed. "Yer a bit of a night owl over there, ain't ya?"
After dishonestly assuring him I'd not been unconscious for the preceding two hours and dispensing with other pleasantries, we got to the business at hand - discussing his upcoming IBO title defense against Manny Siaca, and, more particularly, why his foe isn't of a significantly higher profile.
One Bernard Hopkins... for example.
That fight - proposed as follow-up to last December's one-round blowout of Roy Jones Jr. - died on the negotiating table after Green claims Hopkins simply walked away from the process.
"Bernard could walk down the street naked in a lot of places in Australia and no one would recognize him," Green said. "I think he got carried away with what he's worth. Bottom line, Bernard moved the goalposts. We agreed to his concessions and he ceased negotiations."
And to hear Green tell it, it's not the first time an opponent has followed that path.
Another would-be foe, he insists, was former light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver.
"We asked Gary Shaw what it would take. We offered him seven figures and then some and told Gary to take the offer to him," Green said. "We made the offer over the phone, and then, two days later, we got an e-mail saying they weren't taking the fight and he was going to go his own way.
"What more can I do?"
Left instead for defense No. 2 is the 34-year-old Siaca, who won his lone appearance in Australia by defeating local favorite Anthony Mundine for the WBA super middleweight title in 2004.
Mundine is one of just two men who've beaten Green - winning a unanimous 12- round verdict, also at super middle, in May 2006. Markus Beyer also topped him twice, winning by disqualification in 2003 and majority decision in 2005.
Green has won seven straight since the Mundine loss and is perfect above 168 pounds - 17-0, 13 KOs.
"We made Siaca a fair offer and he's a tough negotiator, but he was happy to take the fight. This is his big opportunity to beat the guy who knocked out Roy Jones Jr. in one round," Green said. "He's a smart fighter and I respect that he's been around a long time and he knows how to go on the road and compete for a world title.
"I'm not looking past him. I want to look impressive in every fight and I know better than to take any fight for granted."
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Elsewhere, the Joe Mesi countdown clock - non-career version - has reached its final hours.
The Buffalo-area heavyweight, on the brink of title contention before an ill- fated matchup with Vassiliy Jirov six years ago, is less than two weeks away from a most profound out-of-the-ring moment.
Now 36, he and wife Michelle are expecting their first child - a girl - later this month.
"(Just a little while) until the arrival of my little girl, I'm very excited," said Mesi, who was married in November 2008 - 10 days after a failed political bid for a seat in New York's state senate - and hasn't laced up the gloves since a TKO defeat of Shannon Miller in October 2007.
As for his in-ring career clock, though the cord's plugged in...a restart is on indefinite snooze.
Mesi's Nevada boxing license was suspended following a brutal 10-round decision over Jirov, during which he suffered a subdural hematoma. The license expired in 2005, and, based on existing state policy, any renewal attempts were subject to automatic denial because of the injury.
He was eventually licensed in Puerto Rico and scored an eight-round decision over Ronald Bellamy in April 2006, then won six more fights over the subsequent 18 months in locales including Montreal, Russellville, Ark., Manistee, Mich. and Chester, W.Va. to up his career mark to 36-0.
The Nevada commission's language changed slightly last year, allowing would-be licensees who'd suffered brain bleeds to have cases reviewed individually - a shift Mesi initially said piqued his interest, though he's taken no subsequent steps to initiate the process.
"My case was highly publicized and opinionated. I don't think (Nevada) would treat me quite as fairly or (be) as accommodating as others," he said. "But I am curious. I'd have to do some research. I doubt I seek (a license) on my own. It may be a different story if it were New York's ruling change."
Still, Mesi, who beat subsequent title challengers DaVarryl Williamson (KO 1) and Monte Barrett (W 10) in his final two fights before Jirov, refused to completely dismiss the possibility of a comeback if the right package - location, opponent, money - was presented to him.
"I'm not actively pursuing a fight," he said. "However, I am still interested and have a few guys in mind. Always willing to look at offers."
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This week's title-fight schedule:
SATURDAY IBF/IBO/WBO heavyweight title - Dusseldorf, Germany Wladimir Klitschko (champion) vs. Eddie Chambers (No. 3 IBF/ No. 3 IBO/No. 1 WBO contender) Klitschko (53-3, 47 KO): Seventeenth title fight (14-2, 12 KO); Unbeaten since 2004 (11-0, 9 KO) Chambers (35-1, 18 KO): First title fight; Unbeaten since 2008 (5-0, 2 KO)
Fitzbitz says: "I'm a big Eddie fan, but I just saw the press conference photos, and man, Wlad looks like a giant standing next to him, nose to scalp. Chambers may be 'Fast' enough to avoid a KO, but probably not a loss." - Klitschko by decision.
Last week's record: 3-0
Overall picks record: 176-61 (74.2 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons is an award-winning 21-year sports journalist, a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a frequent contributor to sports radio talk shows throughout the U.S. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him at twitter.com/fitzbitz and read more at fitzbitzonfights.wordpress.com.