By Ray Wheatley–World of Boxing
Justin Manolikos (pictured above right) is the manager of IBO cruiserweight champion Danny Green and will promote the Danny Green vs Roy Jones Jr bout on December 2nd in Sydney. Manolikos tells Fightnews how he first met Danny when he was eight years of age, how they won four football grand finals together, how he tried to place a bet with bookies that Green would be world champion within three years of turning professional, how professional Roy Jones has been to work with and how the 20,000 Acer Arena in Sydney is nearly sold out a month prior to the fight and how there is not much interest in an Anthony Mundine rematch.
You and Danny Green have been friends since childhood. Please tell me about how you met growing up in Perth, WA?
Danny and I first met when we were eight years-old at school. Our friendship grew throughout our school years and playing Australian Rules Football together. Danny’s father, Mal, was coach and my father, Lou, was the team manager so our families have grown extremely close over the years. As a team we played in four premierships, winning all four, so success is something we came to love and I think really created a bond that is hard to break.
When did you become Danny Green’s manager? Was it after he boxed in the Sydney 2000 Olympics?
I don’t think there was any specific moment when we got together and I said, “Yeah, I’ll be your manager.” Over the years Danny become more successful in his boxing career and I built my expertise as a chartered accountant. As such, the ‘work’ I did for Danny just grew over the years, to the point where in 2002 we said, “Why don’t we promote our own shows?” Things just continued to evolve from there. We formed a team with ‘Green Machine,’ Mick, Pauline, Locko, Rob and myself that covered all aspects required for successful promoting. We both grew to the level where we could help each other out. Having been mates for 30 years and knowing what a successful team we have built-I will walk away if it ever means our friendship is in jeopardy. Not withstanding that, we have our moments where I have to remind him he is the fighter, and I do the business, but that just makes it a bit more fun.
You guided Danny to a WBA light heavyweight title in 2007 and recently IBO cruiserweight title in 2009. This must give you great satisfaction that he reached the top in boxing winning world titles. Your thoughts?
It’s funny, our mate Trants and myself back in 2000 when Danny turned professional, tried to find a bookie that would take our bet: that within three years Danny would win a world title. We couldn’t find one which cost us a fortune! To then go on and see him win three is really quite remarkable. There are a lot of knockers out there about ‘paper titles’ or second rate opponents, but go and ask Mundine Senior, Paul Briggs, Rick Thornberry or the Waters brothers about how hard it is to even get a world title shot let alone win one! So for us to have been able to negotiate and participate in five world title bouts to date, and win three, is something I am sure we will sit down with a beer later in life and say, “That wasn’t a bad effort after all.” I am sure there are plenty of boxers that would love to be in Danny’s position.
You have helped establish a great profile of Danny with the Australian public. He is popular with not only boxing fans but also the man in the street. Was this because the media machine in Australia has been behind him from day one similar to when Jeff Fenech and Kostya Tszyu held world titles? Your thoughts?
As cliche as it sounds, Danny is just a normal guy that is blessed to be extremely good at what he does. The fact that the girls tell me he is pretty good looking, and as a boxer can string a few words together, yet is this destruction machine in the ring obviously creates a mystique that many people love. Boxing is the ‘sweet science’ and a sport that when is at it’s top is unrivaled in regard to appeal to the public. I think it is more a testament to Danny himself than the media. From day 1 his success has been based around the fact he works harder than anyone I know, is very hands on, is approachable to everyone and is good at what he does. This has not changed whether he has been in his first fight or his world title fights. Therefore the public can relate to him and be part of his success. In effect he promotes himself as you see is what you get.
The Danny Green vs Roy Jones Jr bout on December 2 at the Acer Arena in Sydney has the support of the New South Wales Government and has also reportedly almost sold out a month prior to the fight. The Acer Arena holds 20,000. Did you always think this fight would hold so much interest? Your thoughts?
Danny’s trainer Angelo Hyder said from day one, this fight would be bigger than Mundine and it looks as if he is correct! There are still tickets for sale but the uptake has been huge. Thanks must go to EventsNSW and the NSW Premier who had faith to support us in this event when other States would not. You also get certain people in the media that should know better and want to put this fight down and say it is just a glorified sparring session. To those people I say jealousy is a curse! To them I also say why would Jones, after fifty-nine successive fights in his home country of the USA, all of a sudden just change this and come to Australia? Jones is a four division, eight time world champion-it doesn’t get any bigger than that! Yes, we are paying him extremely well, but tell me with a resume like his, why doesn’t he deserve to be? There is no doubt belts are a driving force for Jones and will be coming to try and capture the only belt he does not have between middleweight to heavyweight. If he is successful I doubt this will ever be achieved again.
Roy Jones was in Australia recently helping to promote the fight visiting country towns such as Griffith. What is Roy like to work with?
Roy has been great and a true gentleman. Like Danny, he is extremely professional, approachable and accommodating. Whatever was asked of Roy he did without fuss or complaint. It is his name and his business also that is promoting this fight, so like us he is prepared to invest his own time and energy to make this fight. Having said that it hasn’t been all smooth sailing. His team has been pretty demanding and wanted things that were not agreed upon in the contract. We are not a charity and quite simply won’t be agreeing to these demands.
The Green vs Jones is a co-promotion between the Green Machine Promotions and Roy Company Square Ring Inc., is that correct? Will this fight be televised globally?
Yes, this is a joint promotion between Green Machine Boxing and Square Ring Inc. Given the fight is in Australia we are handling most of the ‘on the ground’ work with SRI bringing other expertise to the table. The fight is going to NZ, USA and Northern America, UK, Malaysia and China amongst others which again shows how big this fight is.
Roy and Danny boxed on the same card in Biloxi, Mississippi recently with Danny stopping Dominguez to win the IBO cruiserweight title and Jones defeating Jeff Lacy. Were you impressed by both wins? Your thoughts?
I am not a boxing expert, but yes, both guys I think performed pretty much at their best. Danny’s movement and power was as good as I have seen it for a long time. Dominguez was tough and could punch but it was only a matter of time before he succumbed to Danny’s power. Roy’s speed was amazing to witness live and he toyed with what people are forgetting was a two time world champion in Jeff Lacy, that was tough as nails and punched like an Ox. No disrespect to Lacy, but Jones did make him look second rate. This fight obviously brought the banger vs the boxer contrasting styles together. This upcoming fight promises to be all action whilst it lasts.
If Danny is successful will he come down to light heavyweight and chase another world title?
Quite possibly he may go back to light heavyweight. He could maybe go to heavyweight also, who knows? At 90 kg he would be a pretty awesome sight! On the other hand, he could retire-stranger things have happened! This fight is his 100% focus and we will worry about the rest come December 3rd. Up until December 2nd, it is Roy Jones Jr.
The Danny Green vs Anthony Mundine bout attracted over 30,000 fans. Are you chasing a rematch?
We are certainly not chasing anything from or with Choc. We are bringing the biggest name in world boxing to Australia yet he continues to perform only at a ‘local level.’ When we win this fight, we will be looking to the world stage to fight guys like pound for pound great Bernard Hopkins. Danny however does crave revenge. If the rematch happens, quite frankly, it will be on our terms. We are past Anthony Mundine at this stage so if it does happen it will be when we are good and ready. Boxing is also a business and everyone knows there would be extremely good money in a rematch so I am certainly not going to say it won’t happen. At this stage it is ‘Anthony who?’