FIGHT­ING TO SAVE HIS CA­REER

Rep­u­ta­tion means ev­ery­thing to this heavy­weight, writes Michael Carayannis arayan­nis

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - SPORT -

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

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