By Craig Watt
Roy Jones Jr touched down in Australia last week for a two week promotional tour ahead of his challenge to IBO cruiserweight champion Danny Green inked for the 18,000 capacity Acer Arena in Sydney on December 2nd. He has already visited Sydney and on Friday came to Green’s hometown of Perth, Western Australia to meet both fans and assembled media. Both fighters were involved in the Telethon in Perth which is a 24 hour charity event for needy children in Western Australia and which raised $3m over the weekend. Both auctioned boxing memorabilia and hosted a charity lunch on Friday and discussed their upcoming fight, the biggest in Australian boxing history on Saturday at a packed Perth Convention Centre. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was also an interested guest in attendance and donated $1.5m to the appeal on behalf of the Australian government.
Many people believe the arrival of eight time world champion Roy Jones Jr is the biggest name in world boxing to fight in Australia since 1908 when Jack Johnson won the Heavyweight Championship of the World against Tommy Burns in Sydney, the same city where the American will attempt to add the IBO cruiserweight title and provide a clean sweep of world championship belts in every weight class from middleweight to heavyweight – a feat no living boxer has matched.
After the event Roy Jones Jr gave Fightnews an update on his trip to Australia and his upcoming fight with Australian boxing hero Danny Green, himself a three weight world champion and current IBO title holder.
Roy – how are you enjoying your trip to Australia?
I have really enjoyed my visit since I landed last week and Sydney is an impressive city and the Acer Arena is an impressive venue built for the Sydney Olympics in 2000. I am aware of the expectations of the Australian boxing fans and I am aware of the importance of this fight in Australian boxing history and this is why we took the fight. People say this is the biggest fight since Jack Johnson came to these shores in 1908 and it is an honor to be mentioned in the same manner as this symbolic fight, all those years ago. It is a wonderful achievement to be involved in such a historic fight here in Australia and a wonderful blessing from God.
Many people see your December 2nd fight with Danny Green as a Boxer vs. Puncher contest – is this how you see the fight?
I see exactly the same thing- boxer versus puncher, a classical match up. Danny has tremendous power and strength and I have the boxing speed and ability. It should be an exciting contest of the highest order and fitting for such a historic occasion come December 2nd at the Acer Arena. I have the chance to secure the only world title belt between middleweight and heavyweight that has so far avoided me and this fight will hopefully secure my legacy in the sport of boxing as one of the greats of all time. The smartest way to address this fight is use my movement and speed so the crowd and Danny’s punching power do not become a deciding factor. I will box a smart fight.
How many fights have you seen of Danny in your preparation?
I have seen two of his fights on tape against Anthony Mundine and against Marcus Beyer when he lost on points plus I also saw him in Mississippi when he won the IBO cruiserweight title a couple of months ago. He is a very strong puncher and a very determined fighter and I know the Australian fans love him dearly. He is a real credit to the sport here in Australia and I admire his courage in challenging me to come to his country and challenge for the IBO title. He has a big engine and you need to watch him from round one to the end of round twelve – he can take a lot of punches but keeps on coming and coming. He has a big heart and a whole lot of Australian courage. He is definitely a dangerous opponent from the first to the last bell.
Danny Green is an Australian boxing hero and three weight world champion – does fighting him in his own country put any more pressure on you?
The crowd will play a part in the fight for sure and I know that when he is tired and need of a lift in the fight they will give it to him. They will give him added energy and momentum even when you don’t want to go on. Yes, it is a factor in the fight and something that makes the challenge to me that more exciting – it is a new challenge for me and having never fought outside the USA in my professional career the thought makes me more determined to put on a good show for all these fervent boxing fans. That is why I will try and stop him early and so the crowd do not become a factor in the fight. I am battle hardened in my career so it is a factor but not a decisive one.
Are you predicting you can knock Danny out in Sydney?
I am confident I can beat Danny inside the distance and it is a match up of boxer vs. puncher but I have the speed and the boxing ability. If you look back at all the great champions in history you notice they all have the speed, natural speed, natural boxing ability. Look at Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Ray Robinson- they all have charisma, speed and boxing ability and I believe I am blessed by God with those very same skills. If you looked at Ali versus George Foreman and all the power that Foreman had over Ali, in the end it was not relevant because the speed and boxing of Ali overtook all that power. It doesn’t matter therefore how strong Danny Green is, how big a punch he has, how many knockouts he has on his record, now its Roy Jones time and I want to give all these fans a fight worthy of the occasion – the biggest fight in Australian boxing history. There is nothing Danny can do about it – power, speed, KO power, it doesn’t matter.
Has the signature on the re-match with Bernard Hopkins added more pressure to this fight in Australia?
In some ways it has – I have to win to make sure the fight with Bernard Hopkins stays intact but it is not relevant in that I am totally focused on winning a version of the cruiserweight title and cementing my legacy in the sport of boxing. Many people expected me to call off the fight with Danny but God has given me some great boxing gifts and talents and throughout my rollercoaster ride it is these challenges that motivate me. I am a man of my word and I know how important this fight is here in Australia and Danny had the courage to challenge me and I will repay that in December with an exciting Roy Jones Jr performance. I still wanted to win this fight even before the Bernard Hopkins fight was discussed so it doesn’t really bring me any more motivation for this fight than I already had.
Who do you see as the pound for pound king in world boxing today?
Had Joe Calzaghe not retired from the sport I think he had a good claim for the award and recognition, but after he has then I do think it is a toss up between Manny Pacquaio and Floyd Mayweather. I could be up there with all of them but I am too old now and they would never give it to me. I still have speed and power.
What motivates you now Roy in boxing after such a long and glittering career?
I am just blessed by God to have such great boxing talent and ability and I have enjoyed a rollercoaster career so far and I just want to keep on going with new and fresh challenges like this fight which is a new weight class and in a new country. These are the challenges I seek in the sport and no doubt there will be more rollercoaster rides but I just enjoy all the aspects of the sport. My plan now is to be involved in big shows and big events and as long as there is boxing and these challenges on the table Roy Jones Jr will keep going, keep fighting and keep entertaining the boxing fans all around the globe.
If there was a chance to fight any fighter in boxing history in a dream fight for you who would that be?
There are two great match ups of historical note that would really have excited me and these would be against Sugar Ray Leonard or Sugar Ray Robinson. Now they would be great fights and superb match up of speed and boxing ability. I remember at 17 years of age sparring with Sugar Ray Leonard and seeing the speed and skill – that would be a great match up for the ages with both in our prime. A fight with Sugar Ray Robinson would also be a superb contest. Now they would be two fights that any boxing fan in any era would love to watch.
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Roy Jones Jr and Danny Green continue their Australian press tour this week with further engagements in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The fight is available on PPV in Australian via Main Events and tickets and hospitality packages are available from Ticketek in Australia.