Green and trainer Jackson are ready for spotlight
Allan Green (left) and trainer John David Jackson (right) flash confident grins at the final press conference for Green's challenge to 168-pound titleholder Andre Ward on Saturday. Green believes Jackson, a crafty former titleholder, deserves to be recognized as a top trainer. Photo / Jan Sanderson-Goossen Tutor.
Super middleweight contender Allan Green was strongly considering a move to the light heavyweight division before he gained a spot in Showtime’s Super Six Boxing Classic as a replacement for Jermain Taylor, who withdrew from the 168-pound tournament.
The talented super middleweight believed his career had fallen into limbo after a 2007 loss to Edison Miranda despite compiling an impressive 23-0 record prior to facing the hard-punching middleweight contender and winning six consecutive bouts since dropping the 10-round decision.
Green (29-1, 20 knockouts) caught a break when Taylor pulled out of the Super Six after suffering a brutal KO loss to Arthur Abraham in the first round of the tournament. Green, whose last two fights were featured on Showtime, replaced the former middleweight champ in the U.S. cable network’s tournament lineup and in his first Super Six bout he faces Andre Ward in the newly crowned beltholder’s hometown of Oakland on Saturday.
“If Taylor hadn’t pulled out of the tournament I would have been fighting at light heavyweight by now,” Green told RingTV.com. “I had no choice but to go up in weight because I was being shafted at super middleweight.”
Green’s trainer John David Jackson knows exactly what his fighter was going through. The underrated former two-division titleholder was avoided by the top junior middleweights and middleweights of the early-to-middle 1990s. Despite winning his first 32 pro bouts and beating quality fighters such as Reggie Johnson, Lupe Aquino, Chris Pyatt and Tyrone Trice, Jackson’s career came to a screeching halt when he was stopped by Jorge Castro in THE RING’s Fight of the Year for 1994.
So Jackson, who retired in 1999 with a 36-4 (20) record, understands as few others can how significant an opportunity Green has in front of him on Saturday. Green obviously plans to make the most of it, but not just for himself. THE RING’s No. 8-rated super middleweight hopes his planned victory also shines some of the spotlight on Jackson.
“Saturday is going to be a total coming out party for both of us,” Green said. “John really hasn’t received his due as a trainer yet. I think he’s one of the best. I was just raw talent before I teamed up with him. John helped me mature as a fighter. I hadn’t really learned the finer points of the sport, all the nuances that make you a real fighter, how to relax in the ring, how to defend yourself, how to walk guys down.
“John taught me all the things I’m going to use to break down Ward, so I want him to get some credit. It’s about time.”
Jackson appreciates Green’s sentiment but says he isn’t looking for credit or accolades as a trainer.
“I want Allan to beat Ward for himself, I want to see him win a championship,” Jackson said. “I don’t need anyone to tell me that I’m a good trainer. The fighters I train tell me that and that’s all I need to hear.”
Long before world-class fighters such as Bernard Hopkins, Shane Mosley and Nate Campbell employed Jackson as a trainer his mentor, George Benton, told him he had what it takes to be a good boxing coach.
Benton, the legendary hall of famer who trained Pernell Whitaker, Evander Holyfield, Mike McCallum and Meldrick Taylor in the 1980s and early 1990s, told Jackson he had the knowledge and patience necessary to teach the sport to others.
“I told Georgie, ‘You must be crazy,'” Jackson said. “I knew what he was telling me because I was always a student of boxing and teaching is something I loved to do, but I was still a fighter and I knew how hard headed and stubborn fighters are. I didn’t think I’d ever want to deal with that.”
However, Jackson’s boxing career didn’t go the way he thought it would.
“I wanted the Julian Jacksons, Donald Curries, and the Terry Norrises, but the promoters and managers of those fighters weren’t willing to risk putting them in with me,” Jackson said. “The only way I made any money was to defend my title in foreign lands.”
However, those fights didn’t garner Jackson any recognition in the U.S. The thrilling ninth-round KO loss to Castro finally earned the crafty southpaw stylist some respect, but he was never the same after that fight. Jackson lost three of his next seven bouts, including a title shot against Hopkins and a rematch with Castro, and he didn’t like where his career was going.
“The only time I was offered a fight it was against some up-and-comer in Europe on one or two weeks notice,” he said. “I wasn’t going to belittle myself like that. I wasn’t going to be a stepping stone, so I knew I was done with boxing.”
Jackson was done as a participant but not with the sport. He served as a sparring partner for Mosley before the then-lightweight titleholder made his welterweight debut. He found that he couldn’t help showing Mosley little steps and moves after their sparring sessions.
“I would teach Shane things in his room after the workouts,” Jackson said. “I couldn’t show him too much in the gym because (Mosley’s trainer and father) Jack was insecure at the time.”
Jackson advanced from sparring with Mosley to working mitts with the Southern Californian between camps for the Wilfredo Rivera and Willy Wise fights. Jackson was an integral part of Mosley’s preparation for the first bout with Oscar De La Hoya, but he received very little credit or compensation for his assistant trainer role.
However, when Mosley parted ways with his father he asked Jackson to serve as head trainer for his bouts against David Estrada, Jose Luis Cruz and his first fight with Fernando Vargas.
Mosley reunited with his father for the Vargas rematch, but that same year (2006) Jackson signed on as Nate Campbell’s head trainer and as an assistant trainer for Hopkins.
Campbell went on to win three lightweight titles from Juan Diaz in 2008. Hopkins went on his extraordinary post-40 run that began with his victory over Antonio Tarver, but 2006 is special to Jackson because that’s when Green asked him to be his trainer.
Jackson and Green first met as sparring partners for Tarver.
“We were helping Tarver get ready for his first fight with Roy Jones,” Jackson said. “I was sparring with world-class fighters at age 41. I did it because I still enjoyed the competition of boxing. I’m 47 now and I’ve had to give sparring up but that’s how I got to know Allan. I was watching him spar with Tarver and I remember thinking to myself ‘This kid is not bad.’
“So I got in the ring with Allan and he hit me with a fast four-punch combination. I pulled out my bag of tricks to slow him down and contain him and he was impressed. He told me that he wasn’t being taught those kinds of things.”
The two stayed in touch over the next year and after Green survived a near knockout to hard-punching journeyman Donny McCrary in April of 2006, the young fighter asked Jackson to train him.
Beginning with a brutal fifth-round stoppage of Anthony Bonsante, Green has won nine of his last 10 bouts, including knockouts of prospects Jerson Ravelo and Carlos DeLeon Jr., with Jackson in his corner.
The run has been special for Jackson. With Green, Jackson is the teacher. He’s not playing second or third fiddle behind Freddie Roach or Naazim Richardson as he has in some of his camps with Hopkins. And unlike Campbell, Green is in his prime and has the opportunity to jumpstart his career.
All Green has to do to unlock his considerable potential is beat Ward (21-0, 13 KOs), the 2004 Olympic gold medalist who became the favorite to win the Super Six tournament with his impressive title-winning victory over Mikkel Kessler last November.
Green, an athletic boxer-puncher who has never lacked confidence, likes his chances.
“I’m the bigger, stronger, faster man but that’s not how I’m thinking going into this fight,” Green said. “Kessler thought that he could physically impose himself on Ward and played right into Ward’s hands. You can’t rush in with Ward. He’s like a humming bird. He doesn’t want to get hit so he’s constantly moving in and out.
“Ward moves in, lands one or two punches, holds, and then he gets out. He tries to frustrate you and wear you down with those tactics and then he might turn it on late in the fight if he thinks you’re tired. To beat Ward you have to walk him down like a prime Mike McCallum or Felix Trinidad.”
You also have to be able to fight on the inside and know what to do in the clinches like a prime John David Jackson, Green added.
“John has prepared me for all of Ward’s tricks,” Green said. “I’ve got tricks that Ward doesn’t know about. I’ve learned from someone who has been in the ring, someone who knows the rights and wrongs and the dos and don’ts of boxing.
“John knows what it’s all about. He’s been a champion.”
Now it’s Green’s turn.