Green winds up for final flourish

End game … Danny Green with Kiwi Shane Cameron.
End game … Danny Green with Kiwi Shane Cameron.

DANNY GREEN is in full stride running around Melbourne's Gosch's Paddock, but in his mind he's already in his final fight and trading bell-ringers with powerful New Zealander Shane Cameron.

After a career spanning two decades, representing his country at the Sydney Olympics, 37 professional fights - 32 wins (28KO), five losses - three world titles and a stint in retirement, Green may hang up the gloves for good after the November 21 bout at Melbourne's Hisense Arena.

In 39-year-old Green's mind's eye his punches sink deeper into Cameron's body and he pictures each blow cracking his highly ranked opponent's will. From brutal experience Green knows which points to pressure to ensure the Kiwi eventually crumbles like a giant chimney stack under the relentless force of a wrecking ball.

Green, who'll become a four-time world champion should he defeat Cameron, throws an involuntary volley of punches when the battle raging inside his head reaches its zenith. Green's air swings - even when he runs - are loaded with intent, as the mother pushing a pram and a few joggers confirm by their double-takes.

''Scud missiles, mate,'' Green panted in between breaths when he's asked to describe the scenes he visualises. ''I see deadly accurate guided Scud missiles detonating on Cameron's chin; see 'em rattling his eye sockets. With each punch I can feel his will ebbing from him.

''There's no malicious intent at all. I'm just a professional pugilist maximising what I call damage output with my shots. I have to hurt him; need to hurt him. When I picture a fight it goes the way I want it to go … the power in my punches, the way I evade his. It sets how I want the fight to go."

Green, who had his first fight 20 years ago at Perth's Midland Town Hall when he battered Milos Radovich - an older amateur with a KO-merchant's reputation, scary tattoos and an intimidating goatie-beard - into submission, is as much a realist as he is gladiator.

He concedes Cameron is younger, is a natural-born heavyweight blessed with a big man's punch and even admitted the ''Mountain Warrior'' from New Zealand's high country had the goods to knock him cold, the result Cameron had promised loudly and proudly to the Kiwi media when he agreed to fight for the vacant IBO world cruiserweight crown. But Green said Cameron was cursed with something that'd weigh on him until the final second of their bout like an anchor around a drowning man's neck because New Zealand had not had a world champion since Maselino Masoe won the WBA middleweight belt in 2004, Bob Fitzsimmons in 1891 and Billy Murphy in 1890.

''I think the pressure is starting to mount on Shane Cameron,'' he says. ''The closer the fight gets, the more it'll grow. He's carrying the hope of his nation. It's a huge load because they're desperate for a world champion and while he's promised so much in the past he has come up short. He has a lot of things in his favour: youth, size, power, strength but he also has the pressure - and it's all-consuming. However, he's a serious threat. Cameron could knock me unconscious. It's daunting. He's a big and powerful guy. His last KO [against American Monte Barrett] was spectacular. I'm backing myself but I know my never-say-die attitude will be needed.''

Throughout his career, Green made it a point to never speak beyond his next battle. However, with the end near he had no trouble describing his legacy. ''I see the legacy, already,'' he said. ''It's humbling when a car load of young blokes pull up to wish me well, like some guys did this morning. I feel great when I see a Green Machine sticker on a tradie's ute. My body is banged up, I reckon I'll be falling out of bed in five years because of the things I've had to do to compete against younger blokes, yet I'm in great shape.''

Green hoped fighters would learn from his gamble to promote himself, although he warned it had resulted in unwelcome grey hair. ''I certainly put a lot of pressure on myself as a fighter,'' he said. ''I look back on some of my losses with regret … some of the pressure, like mortgaging my family's home to bankroll the Roy Jones jnr fight [in 2009] was incredible. I did it to ensure I fought calibre fighters and even though there was stress I'm glad I steered my own ship.''

Green's trainer Angelo Hyder said he'd cursed the boxing gods on numerous occasions because he's frustrated Green at 39 was a far better warrior than at 28, the age in which he turned professional after he competed at the Sydney Olympics. He's more angry to think Green, who'd fought such greats as Jones and disgraced steroid cheat Antonio Tarver, hadn't received the accolades he deserved. ''He brought the best out here,'' Hyder said. ''Jones and Tarver are Hall of Fame bound; Krzysztof Wlodarczyk - the Pole who beat Dan - is [one of] the world's best cruiserweights. B.J.Flores couldn't get anyone to fight him but Dan did and while Flores will be a world champion one day, [Green] beat him. He brought Stipe Drews to Australia when the Croatian was the WBA champion and took his crown.

''It's a great career, and it frustrates me. Danny destroyed Roy Jones jr in the opening round … nailed him … but that wasn't enough for some critics. Amazingly, Danny was the 5-1 underdog that night. It meant most people didn't give him a chance, but he stopped Jones; ferocious. Had it been a blood bath that went the distance they'd have called it a great win, and it was. But, the public want blood.''

As Green started his run, to resume his battle with Cameron in his head, he vowed to enter the ring as determined as that night in '92 when the referee had to physically pry him from Radovich at the old Midlands Town Hall. ''It's the same as my first world title fight, any fight,'' he said. ''But I want to go out on a massive high against a guy I consider a great opponent. I'm making no predictions except to say 'it's on'."

This story Green winds up for final flourish first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.