He’s fighting for a slice of the heavyweight title and it means the world to him. Australian slugger Lucan Browne will face veteran Ruslan Chagaev for a portion of the WBA crown on March 5th, and legendary ex-champions Larry Holmes, Riddick Bowe and Hasim Rahman have been giving the raw puncher known as “Big Daddy” (Bowe’s nickname back in the day, one Riddick says he is proud to pass on to Browne) advice and encouragement.
Holmes, a true great who is recognised by most people as having the finest left jab in heavyweight history, has taken it upon himself to try and instruct Browne on how to use his own jab.
“All you have to do is keep the jab going,” Holmes told Browne as quoted by Fox Sports in Australia. “Stick it in his face as quick as possible and as often as possible. When you see it working, bring that big right hand in. That’s all I can tell you. Enjoy yourself and good luck.”
Holmes insists he would have had a field day had he been around today, against the current crop of big men. Maybe he’s right. But can Browne travel to Chechnya and defeat Chagaev, a man with far more experience than he has? Browne is shooting to become the first Australian in history to hold a version of the world heavyweight title and the 36-year-old says the words of encouragement he has been getting are a big lift.
“It seems like every top heavyweight in the world is backing me to beat Chagaev and I don’t want to let them down,” Browne said. “I’m in the best shape of my career and I’m looking forward to doing all these great champions proud with a devastating performance on March 5th.”
Chagaev might be getting on a little in terms of years (age 37) and length of career (and inactive spells) but the southpaw remains crafty and he has underrated punching power (look at his recent quick blast out of Francesco Pianeta). Browne didn’t look too good in his own last outing, when he laboured to beat oft-stopped journeyman Julius Long in nine-rounds (admittedly a hand injury seriously affected Browne and his performance). The Australian star will have to look a lot better than that if he’s to convince the judges he is deserving of a win (a stoppage win over Chagaev, while certainly possible, looks doubtful here).
But Hasim Rahman, who famously shocked the odds by KO’ing Lennox Lewis in 2001, says Browne can also travel and get the job done in style.
“I had to go all the way to South Africa to knock out Lennox Lewis, but trust me, winning it away from home and against the odds just makes it sweeter,” Rahman said. “Lucas has a big right hand, just like me. I think he’ll put Chagaev to sleep just like I did to Lennox.”
Browne will be going some if he can do that, even if his win would in no way come close to Rahman’s stunner over Lewis. I have a feeling, though, that Australian fans will end up disappointed on March 5th – I’m going for Chagaev to scrape through with a close, possibly debatable, points win.