It is ironic Danny Green is at the centre of a campaign to rid the world of coward punches, because he fell victim to one at the Adelaide Oval on Friday night.
The first minute of his long-awaited grudge match against Anthony Mundine had gone according to the popular script – Green bullying Mundine around the ring, using his larger frame to boss proceedings.
But the fight took a dramatic turn, during a clinch in which Mundine momentarily found himself behind Green.
To the crowd’s disgust, he threw a full-blooded left hook that landed flush on the jaw of the Western Australian, who wasn’t looking as the referee attempted to break up the fighters.
— FOX SPORTS News (@FOXSportsNews) February 3, 2017
Coward punch, sadly.
— Adam Peacock (@adampeacock3) February 3, 2017
Green, clearly, was struggling – he didn’t know where he was, and it looked for an awful moment as though boxing was to descend into farce again.
The ringside doctor came out and checked up on Green and it really could have been over, just like that.
But Green impressively regained his composure, fought on and then claimed a memorable victory.
On the other side of the ledger, Mundine was unlucky. That’s a phrase you don’t type often.
He can justifiably lay claim to being dudded, after again demonstrating he is a technically superior boxer to Green, who at times looked lost against Mundine’s skills.
But when the scorecards were read out after 10 rounds by veteran ring announcer Michael Buffer they were 94-94, 96-94 to Green and an absurd 98-90 – giving the 43-year-old a majority decision.
Although, after almost ending the fight by hitting Green on the break, few will have sympathy for the 41-year-old Mundine.
After much criticism of this bout – from the fighters’ advanced ages and their large weight discrepancy (Green weighed in at 82.9kg to Mundine’s 79.6) – the two boxers put on a solid, if a little scrappy show for the 26,940 fans in attendance.
— Ben Damon (@ben_damon) February 3, 2017
Mundine seemed uncharacteristically subdued on his arrival at the Adelaide Oval, sitting in his dressing room like a kid outside the headmaster’s office waiting for the strap.
Green, meanwhile, looked in his element – laughing it up with a couple of ‘colourful identities’ (Mick Gatto and John Kizon).
After an interminable undercard, the highlights of which were Quade Cooper knocking out a fat bloke and Tim Tszyu winning a Kostya Tszyu lookalike contest, the fighters finally got down to serious business at 10.45pm local time.
A minute in, Green was dazed and confused, looking in need of air – Mundine’s left hook separating him from his senses, and the punch no doubt altered the shape of the early rounds.
As the fight progressed, Mundine grew in confidence and Green seemed to shrink into himself.
Green woke up a little in the fifth, landing a couple of nice shots and enjoying his best round of the night, with the sixth more of the same – punctuated by a thunderous jab on the bell.
Green landed a big right hand halfway through round seven which buckled the legs of Mundine, but his advantage was cancelled out moments later for using his elbow.
Mundine bossed the eighth, backing Green to the ropes and landing several big shots to the head.
It was more of the same in the ninth, with Mundine starting and finishing the exchanges, bloodying Green’s nose and leaving him looking a tired, beaten man.
The final round was tame by comparison, both men content to be on their feet until the final bell.
When the scorecards were read out, it was jubilation in the Green camp – finally vindicated after an 11-year-wait.
But Green said that was not his primary motivation and asked the Adelaide crowd, who’d given Mundine and the troupe of Aboriginal dancers he’d entered the arena with a hostile reception, to show their appreciation for his opponent.
“It’s nothing to do with revenge,” he said.
“I want to say to Australia, this has nothing to do with black or white.
“It is sport. It is nothing to do with colour. I wanted to fight against another man, that’s it.
“And that just feels so good. I want everybody here to raise their hands and clap, I don’t care what you think … hands up for Anthony Mundine now, please.”
When asked if he was feeling 43, Green said: “I’m feeling 53. Tomorrow morning I’m going to feel 63…I just want to pay tribute to all the people that have come to support me.
“All the people sitting around in Australia that have shown me so much love and support … I just f***ing love all of you.”
With the win, Green improved his professional record to 36-5 while Mundine dropped to 47-8.
And now, finally, maybe these two blokes will stop badmouthing each other.