FIGHTING TO SAVE HIS CAREER
Reputation means everything to this heavyweight, writes Michael Carayannis arayannis
THE last time Lucas Browne fought, it cost him $12,500.
It was not what Browne had envisaged when he became Australia’s first heavyweight champion a little more than a year earlier.
He had beaten Ruslan Chagaev for the WBA heavyweight title in Russia in 2016, but was left to rebuild his career at the humble Club Punchbowl against little-known Michael Greer last June. Greer had just one win from his previous 14 fights.
The bout may have been a financial burden but it was exactly what Browne needed, with a second-round KO.
“I was a lot more nervous for that fight than the world-title fight,” Browne said. “I was worried about what people were thinking and what they were going to say to me.
“It was everything I needed to get through to continue on with my boxing and move forward.”
Browne’s career came to a massive halt when he tested positive to drugs twice following the win against Chagaev. He was stripped of the world title and banned for six months before the WBA ruled it was unlikely he had intentionally taken the banned substance. He kept his ranking but not his title. Browne was due to fight Shannon Briggs for the same WBA belt before another positive test ruined those chances.
He claims it was an innocent mistake, taking ostarine, after an overthe-counter purchase. That error cost him six months and led to a date in Punchbowl. After flirting with retirement, Browne has a chance to resurrect his career when he fights Dillian Whyte on March 24 for the WBC silver heavyweight title.
The animosity between Browne and Whyte, who has 22 wins and one loss, is genuine with the Englishman labelling Browne a “tattooed penis”.
“He is a general dickhead,” Browne said. “I’m not a big fan of his. He is their version of (Anthony) Mundine.
“He comes out and says a lot of stupid things. I think it’s childish. It’s his way of doing things. It differs from mine.
“He was quite vocal at the press conference. He had to sell the fight. He did go a bit overboard just to sell the fight and he made himself look like a twit.
“He needed to do that. He has been quiet lately, though … maybe someone has told him to pull his head in.
“It’s going to be interesting because I’ve never faced an opponent that I didn’t like. I’m too controlled to lose it. It’ll be interesting how much fun I have in the ring.
“He is decent, don’t get me wrong and he may make a world-title fight but he will never win a world title. He gets too emotionally involved and that will be his downfall.”
The winner will almost certainly book a worldtitle fight headlined by either Anthony Joshua — who inflicted Whyte’s only loss — or Kiwi Joseph Parker.
“A win and this fight will put me back where I belong,” said Browne, who left for England last week to train alongside Ricky Hatton.
“I’ve learnt a lot the past two years. It has made me a lot tougher.
“I don’t like it going to a decision. I don’t want my life or career in the hands of three people. I want to knock him out and stop him and then there is no way anyone can say I didn’t win. I want the knockout.
“It’s more exciting.’’
Australia’s Lucas Browne will fight England’s Dillian Whyte for the WBC silver heavyweight title on March 24; insets, Browne’s bout against Ruslan Chagaev; and with the WBA heavyweight belt after victory in Russia. Main picture: Bohdan Warchomij