By Jake Donovan
Danny Green is looking to end his career on a high note. The 39-year old now has the chance to ride a wave of positive momentum into the sunset, following a five-round drubbing of Danny Santiago in a catchweight bout Wednesday evening at Challenge Stadium in Perth, Australia.
Green tipped the scales at 186.1 lb, while Santiago – traditionally a light heavyweight – weighed in at a career high 186.3 lb for his first trip Down Under.
The bout was as much of a mismatch as was expected on paper, though still a necessity for Green. The wildly popular Aussie remains a huge draw, but was in desperate search of a win after back-to-back knockout losses to Antonio Tarver and Krzysztof Wlodarcyzk had him thinking retirement.
Santiago provided that very opportunity. The American opponent for hire had been stopped in all five career losses prior to the bout. Further handicapping his chances was the fact that he hadn’t fought since a 9th round stoppage against Beibut Shumenov in their light heavyweight title bout last July.
To his credit, the Nuyorican at least attempted to gun for the upset, unloading with a flurry seconds into the fight. Few if any of the punches landed, but was enough to remind Green not leave anything to chance. The house fighter did just that, scoring with a single left hook.
Less than a minute in, the fight had permanently changed course.
Green never really looked back, as it was clear that Santiago’s goal from that point onward was to survive while offer a credible showing. He managed to accomplish the latter, refusing to lie down even as he was frequently put down.
The first of four knockdowns came midway through the third round, when Green landed in combination. Santiago immediately bounced back up, determined to fight on. The question at that point became just how much longer he would be permitted to catch a beating.
Two more knockdowns in the fourth further sent the crowd into a frenzy, but Santiago – buzzed and battered – continued to peel himself off of the canvas and beg for more. That he made it out of the round is a testament to his courage, but Green was happy to dole out punishment for as long as the action continued.
A vicious body attack from Green throughout the contest to that point had finally taken its toll on Santaigo, who was running on fumes for most of the fifth. Green put the journeyman out of his misery, scoring a final knockdown late in the round.
Santiago wisely chose to stay down after tasting the canvas for the fourth time, bringing an end to the contest at 2:46 of round five.
Green (32-5, 28KO) picks up his first win since Nov. ’10, when he scored a mild upset of then-unbeaten cruiserweight contender BJ Flores. The former light heavyweight titlist endured several ups and downs in his well-documented run, adding some big names late in his career.
Santiago suffers his second straight loss in falling to 31-6-1 (19KO). All of his losses have come inside the distance, the most recent coming in a 9th round stoppage to Beibut Shumenov in their light heavyweight title fight last July.
Amazingly, Santiago has managed two title shots and a high-profile Showtime appearance out of an otherwise limited career. A 2007 campaign saw the Bronx-born fighter suffer back-to-back knockouts at the hands of then-lineal light heavyweight king Zsolt Erdei and former champ Antonio Tarver.
A first round stoppage of the shell of Roy Jones Jr. in Dec. ’09 opened doors for Green, reviving hope in a career that has proven to be far more successful at the box office than in the ring. The knockout came in the midst of a 10-fight win streak that also saw Green pick up his lone major title, a points win over Stipe Drew for an alphabet portion of the light heavyweight crown in 2007.
The extended win streak led some to believe that a potential cruiserweight run was in the works. That dream came to a crashing halt when former light heavyweight king Antonio Tarver turned back the clock with a 9th round knockout last summer.
Green has since questioned the legitimacy of that result in light of Tarver recently testing positive for banned substances following his12-round draw to Lateef Kayode. What hasn’t (yet) been questioned was his follow-up ring appearance. Green offered a brave showing against Wlodarczyk in his cruiserweight title challenge last November before being beaten into submission.
Many believed the moment to be the end of a career that stretched out more than a decade and has produced plenty of thrills along the way. It remains to be seen whether the outcome of this bout provides Green with false hope, or serves as a memorable enough moment to call it quits.
TELEVISED UNDERCARD RESULTS
Hometown favorite Pieter Cronje offered a thrill to his countrymen in attendance with a 10th round knockout of a game Oscar Siale in the evening’s chief support.
Siale was on the verge of a potential massive upset, going punch-for-punch with the fringe cruiserweight contender before getting rocked in the eighth round. Cronje - bloodied but with plenty of fight in him – never looked back, pummeling his brave opponent before forcing the referee to intervene in the 10th and final round.
Cronje avoids a second straight loss as he improves to 14-5-1 (10KO). His next fight is already booked, as he is slated to take on Daniel Ammann for a domestic cruiserweight belt.
Super featherweight prospect Matt Garlett picked up his seventh straight win after stopping familiar foe Hwi-Jong Kim in the 2nd round of their televised prelim.
Garlett (9-1, 5KO) dominated from the opening bell, as Kim – who took the fight on short notice after having fought just 12 days ago – was in retreat mode for as long as the fight lasted. Fortunately for the journeyman, it didn’t last very long. Garlett was on the attack all through the opening round before forcing the stoppage 0:44 into round two.
Kim (5-7, 1KO) has already fought five times in 2012 after ending an eight-year absence from the ring. Among the lot was an April bout with Garlett, who won a six-round decision but didn’t look anywhere nearly as spectacular as he did in the rematch.
Perth’s own Wes Capper (2-0, 1KO) made quick work of David Galvin, scoring two knockdowns en route to a 2nd round stoppage. Capper dropped Galvin (3-4-2, 0KO) in rounds one and two, the latter producing the first stoppage of his young career.
The ambitious Galvin suffered his first career stoppage loss. The 33-year old had won three straight following a rough 0-3-2 start to his career, with all nine ring appearances to date coming against unbeaten opposition.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox