When super middleweight “Mean” Joe Greene of Jamaica, Queens, steps into the ring in the main event on Thursday night, May 18, at the Huntington Hilton on Long Island, he will be returning to the town where he scored his biggest win to date.
It was at the Huntington Town House, which is located a few miles away, that he brutally dispatched the more experienced Craig Robinson of Pine Mountain, Georgia, in three rounds in September 2005.
Robinson came into the bout with a 7-1-2 (6 KOS) record and a well-deserved reputation for durability and resilience.
“He didn’t frustrate me at all,” said Greene, a 20-year-old southpaw with a sterling 9-0 (7 KOS) record, who is generally regarded as one of New York’s hottest young prospects.
“I just figured the guy out and broke him down. That’s what I always do.”
On Thursday he will face another potentially difficult opponent in Derrick Graham of Newark, New Jersey. The well-traveled 37-year-old Graham, 12-7-1 (4 KOS), also has a reputation for durability and resilience.
He lasted the distance with such notable fighters as Alex Bunema, Ross Thompson and Davey Hilton. He was also stopped in three rounds by Winky Wright in a 1999 IBF junior middleweight title elimination bout.
But Graham is not just known for high profile losses. He beat the previously undefeated Emil Baku, who was 18-0, as well as Andrew Murray and Levan Easley. There’s no reason to think that he will be a walk in the park for Greene, whose nickname belies his humble and modest demeanor.
“Joe is a pretty grounded guy who really takes his profession seriously,” said Bob Duffy of Ring Promotions, who is co-promoting Thursday’s show along with Frankie G. Productions. Frankie G. is the husband of former women’s champion Kathy Collins. Together they run the Academy of Boxing gym in Huntington.
“He is willing to do what it takes to be a champion, and is not afraid of hard work,” continued Duffy. “He is more than willing to accept tough challenges. Derrick Graham is a tough challenge, especially at this stage of Joe’s career.”
Greene has always been willing to take on all comers since he began fighting at the age of six. He became involved in the sport through his father, Joe Greene Sr., and his uncle, Terrence Simpson, a pro middleweight who compiled an 8-1-1 (5 KOS) record between 1984 and 1992.
From the day he began boxing, Greene said that was the only thing that motivated him throughout his childhood. Although he was a good student at August Martin High School in Queens, from which he graduated in 2003, all he wanted to do with his life was become a pro boxer.
After winning 310 of 317 amateur fights, the fight beat couldn’t help but take notice of him as he started knocking out one professional opponent after another. In his last bout, he scored a unanimous six-round decision over the tough Brian Norman at Madison Square Garden on the undercard of the St. Patrick’s Day Eve extravaganza that was headlined by John Duddy versus Shelby Pudwill.
“Fighting at the Garden was great, but I hope to come back there and be the main event someday,” said the soft-spoken Greene, who is managed by attorney Jack Stanton and trains at the Starrett City Boxing Club in Brooklyn. (Stanton’s brother Larry was a tough and extremely popular Long Island junior welterweight in the seventies.)
“I traveled around the world as an amateur, so it doesn’t really matter to me who I fight or where I fight. I just want to fight. The more often, the better.”
Competing on several international teams, Greene has laced them up in, among other places, England and Korea. He is also a two-time New York City Golden Gloves champion and a National Golden Gloves champion as well.
He lost a heartbreakingly close decision to eventual United States representative Andre Dirrell at the 2004 Olympic Trials. After that he thought it best to turn pro and has not looked back.
“Of course, I was disappointed, but I just moved on and did other things,” he explained. “He was the best, so he got to represent his country. Now that I’m a professional, my sights are set on a world title.”
While growing up, Mean Joe, who is advised by Andre Rozier, the owner of Havoc Clothing, most admired Lennox Lewis and Oscar De La Hoya, as much for their business acumen as their boxing skills.
Hoping to have a similar career ascension to theirs, he is more than willing to put in the work required to make that happen.
“I’m a full-time fighter and I never look for shortcuts,” he said. “I’m willing to take one step at a time to reach my goals.”
Asked if he emulates any other boxers, he looked incredulous when he responded unequivocally, “I don’t fight like anybody else except Joe Greene.”
Jimmy Lange, who appeared on season one of “The Contender” television show, was scheduled to appear on the show, but was scratched last week due to a shoulder injury.
Other fights include cruiserweights Andrew Hutchinson vs. Jamal McKay, super flyweights Elton Dharry vs. Angel Fret, light middleweights Jason Thompson vs. Ron Lewis, two light heavyweight bouts featuring debuting Marek Dombroski vs. Steve Marcantonio, and Eddie Irizarry vs. TBA, a lightweight fight between Alberto Amaro and Jason Rivera, and a 111 pound women’s matchup between Kimberly Tomes and Suzanna Warner .
As they usually do, the promoters of the show are donating two tables to veterans from the nearby Northport Veterans Hospital, as well as funds to the Huntington Manor Fire Department and the Ring 8 Veteran Boxers Association.
For ticket information call 631-673-3520 or 516-313-2304.
Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?