Believe it or not, this Wednesday's must-win fight for Roy Jones Jr. is actually pretty interesting. For those unfamiliar with Danny Green, I'm not going to overhype what he does, or try to sell you a man that doesn't exist.
Green is 36 years old. He twice challenged Markus Beyer for the WBC super middleweight title, getting disqualified in 2003 and decisioned in 2005. The biggest fight of his career was also one of the biggest fights in Australian boxing history, as 30,000 fans turned out in 2006 to see Green face his long press rival, Anthony Mundine. After losing to Mundine, a rematch was discussed, but has yet to come about.
Post-Mundine, Green beat a few decent, not great fighters, and then was set for a 2007 fight in America with Antonio Tarver. And let's call it what it was: Tarver ducked Green, and had no interest, ever, in fighting him. This was not a situation where internet people or any one in any part of the press went wide with misleading facts, either. Showtime, who were to broadcast Tarver-Green, had run ads for the fight. Tarver himself had talked about the fight. And then before you know it, a bait-and-switch is pulled, with Danny Santiago replacing Green.
Green had already come to the States to begin training and to get used to the time difference when he found out he would not, in fact, be fighting Tarver. So he went back to Australia for a fight with then-WBA light heavyweight titlist Stipe Drews. Green won. It was his first major belt, and after the fight, he retired.
But like most, his retirement didn't last. A year and a half later, he hit the ring again, with faint whispers of a fight with Roy Jones Jr. possibly on the horizon, and some more talk of a Mundine rematch. Two fights later, and here we are, with Green and Jones ready to square off.
And it'll be Danny Green with homefield advantage in Sydney, Australia.
Don't overlook the fact that this is Roy Jones Jr.'s first fight outside of the United States, but don't put a ton into it, either. Frankly, I don't expect Jones will receive a terribly hostile reception. Even at 40 and faded from his prime, Jones is still a major name in boxing, and his going to Australia legitimizes, in some ways, their boxing and their boxing economy. Having a living legend the stature of Roy Jones come to town to fight Danny Green is a pretty big event, and should be exciting for the Aussie fans.
Danny Green really needs to focus on one thing: Power. Danny Green has 24 knockouts in his 24 wins, and Roy Jones has a bustable chin. We know that. Tarver knocked him out with a perfect shot, and Glen Johnson put a vicious beating on him the next time out. That said, that was five years ago. Since then, he's lost to Tarver again by decision, and by decision to Joe Calzaghe.
Simply put, Green cannot play the speed game with Roy Jones. When you watch Green's fight with Mundine, it's apparent that Green is far from a speed merchant. He's a very basic fighter -- a good one, a strong one, and a tough one. But he's not hard to figure out. He comes at you, he doesn't make his intentions hidden, and there's not much to more than the usual to prepare for when Green is your opponent.
Jones cannot look past him, though. Of the two tune-up fights on Wednesday that could lead to Jones-Hopkins II, it's Roy taking the bigger risk, and rightly making the most money. Jones deserves some props for living up to his promise to fight Green, even when the Hopkins rematch was put to paper officially. He even hinted that of course he didn't really want to risk this with that money fight on the horizon, but he's proven to be a man of his word. Danny Green came back, it would seem, to fight Roy Jones. And he'll get his chance.
This year, Jones has fought twice, beating a couple of shot fighters. Omar Sheika had fought just once (in 2007) since 2005, and 2005 was also the last time Jeff Lacy looked good in the ring. I think you can gloss over Sheika very easily as nothing more than a pure bounce-back fight, but Lacy was a bit more impressive. Even given how slow, limited and worn out Lacy appears these days, Jones had some real spark in that fight. He came to impress and to end the fight before the scheduled 12 rounds, and he did so.
What it really comes down to is Jones' last 10 fights. He's got a debated win over Tarver, plus victories over Prince Badi Ajamu, Anthony Hanshaw, a bloated Tito Trinidad, Sheika and Lacy. He's got clear losses to Tarver (twice), Johnson and Calzaghe.
So where does Green fit in? For my money, and no disrespect meant to Danny Green, he's much closer in class to the likes of Ajamu, Hanshaw and Lacy than he is to Calzaghe, prime Tarver and Glen Johnson. Jones may be old, but he's not a shot fighter. Faded, aged, yes. Shot? No.
I just don't think Danny Green will get that big right hand that he'll need. If Jones fights smart, doesn't lay on the ropes and put himself in bad positions (something he's been anxious to do in recent outings), he'll win this one going away. Jones deserves to be the heavy favorite, and I think he'll win the fight. But if Green curbs that big rematch, I won't be shocked.