It's probably a little unfair to say that Allan Green has built an entire career on one performance - but only a little. When Green took out rising young star Jaidon Codrington in 18 seconds in 2005 it seemed to showcase the kind of devastating one-punch knockout power that can change fights, end careers and win titles. As an unconscious Codrington lay flopped like a dead haddock on the bottom rope, we wondered if we were witnessing a lineal descendant of Julian Jackson, Nigel Benn or Earnie Shavers: a world-class knockout artist – ice in his veins, dynamite in his fists.
It didn't quite work out like that: Allan Green has beaten no one of real consequence since Codrington. There's no doubt that he hits hard – 21 KOs in 31 fights testify to that – but what people forget is that deploying that power effectively against the top fighters requires skill, guile and perseverance and Green has been lacking in all three throughout his career. Mike Tyson used feints, his underrated jab and crippling body attack to set up his KO combos but if Green's opponent does not leave a succession of openings he doesn't have anything in his arsenal to force the case. It's one thing to decapitate some greenhorn kid in his 10th fight, quite another to turn things around against a canny operator who knows the ropes and doesn't make rookie errors. It's also worth noting that Codrington's first round KO loss to Rakhim Chakhkiev just weeks ago suggests that the famous 18-second demolition job was at least partly down to some early vulnerability in him.
And now Green faces Denmark's Viking Warrior Mikkel Kessler for the vacant WBC Silver Light Heavyweight Title (silver titles being WBC's idiotic rebranding of interim titles – only in boxing). The most impressively inked boxer in the sport goes into the fight a prohibitive favourite at 1.16 and this is understandable enough. Kessler's only two losses came to the great Joe Calzaghe and the world's best super-middleweight, the hugely impressive Andre Ward. His style is classically European: upright, orthodox, good fundamentals with attacks set up behind a piston-like jab. Offensively, he prefers to flurry then step back, rather than use lateral movement or stand in close and fight on the inside. Those flurries aren't powderpuff either – 33 of his 44 victories have been inside the distance. He's a punishing heavy-handed puncher who doesn't let his opponent off the hook when he's got him hurt.
Critics call him predictable and while that's certainly true it's also been true of plenty of good, even great fighters (Winky Wright and Marvin Hagler spring to mind). Knowing how a man will come at you and knowing how to stop him are two different things. Calzaghe beat him with movement and volume, Ward with angles and aggression. Green doesn't even come close to having any of those qualities and if he doesn't get a knockout in the first few rounds he gets that going-through-the-motions look, like he's just hoping to make the final bell in one piece. In the unlikely event of Green making it competitive on the scorecards the chances of him winning a decision in Kessler's backyard of Copenhagen aren't good.
You don't think 1.16 can be value? It is if the true price is 1.10. Green can't win the decision, frequently loses focus in fights and his puncher's chance is overrated. If you're looking for a solid add to your weekend accumulator you could do a lot worse. The Viking Warrior won't be troubled. Get pillaging.