Lucas Browne has copped plenty of smack talk from Paul Gallen ahead of their fight. But he refuses to bite back.
While Paul Gallen says he doesn’t enjoy trash talking, the former NRL star has done his utmost to create some sort of ill will between himself and Lucas Browne to drum up interest ahead of their bout in Wollongong next Wednesday.
These are just some of the examples of quotes which have caused a stir: “I didn’t know whether to give him a bra or not … he’s developing b—h t–s.”
“He won a reserve grade world title.”
“I don’t think he’s a boxer to be honest.”
Like many boxers before him, Gallen has become skilled at promoting his fights with confected hatred. The customary verbal bashing is usually followed by the obligatory hug and some respectful reflections once the fight is over.
Yet, no matter how hollow the statements might be, combat sport athletes are a proud bunch. More so than most. Telling another grown man he needs to wear a bra comes with consequences, some fighting words at least. So it’s been somewhat puzzling that throughout Gallen’s verbal barrage, Browne has offered very little in return. Surprising, perhaps, for a 42-year-old who is looking to build a nest egg once the curtain falls on his controversial career in the coming years.
Browne, 29-2, has been outspoken about the lack of money in Australian boxing. While someone like Anthony Mundine banked career earnings of over $30 million off the back of his infamy and the name he made in rugby league, career boxers like Browne battled away at RSL clubs for a pittance, looking to pave a path to a world title and potential riches. Even though Mundine set the blueprint on how to create interest and maximise earnings on the domestic scene, a path Gallen has followed, Browne is loathe to follow it.
“I understand the game and the circus but I’m just not that person,” Browne told Wide World of Sports.
“At the start of my career Mundine was at the height of his career. And one thing I wanted to make sure never happened with my career is that I didn’t want to turn into a Mundine sort of person.
“I’ve maintained that all the way through. So he wants to be the Mundine of this situation that’s fine. I don’t go below the belt, I don’t bring families in or the missus or any of that stuff because I don’t want it done to me.”
Browne did claim the WBA strap in 2016 against Ruslan Chagaev in Russia, but was brought back to earth with a positive drug test, which was eventually voided by the sanctioning body. He got paid six-figures for that fight and will earn roughly the same for an exhibition bout against a former NRL player over six rounds.
Browne’s career nosedived when he tested positive for a banned substance for a second time. On that occasion the result stuck, with the proud fighter forced to build his career back up through the RSL scene again, for next to nothing. Browne knows the loudest bark turns heads and his reluctance to insult opponents may have hurt his bottom line throughout his career, although the potential collateral damage was just too risky for the former champion.
“I think my kids and that would have been impacted because of people’s perceptions,” he said.
“I met Mundine officially for the first time at the Tim Tszyu fight. Absolute legend of a fella. Love everything I posted and said thank you for being very up front. But prior to that my perception of him was he was an arsehole.
“People have said how nice he is but my perception through media and what he said is that he’s an arsehole and I don’t want that for my kids and family.
“I don’t want them to walk down the street and someone yell, ‘Your dad’s an arsehole!’ It’s not fair on them. If it means I lose a bit of money and keep respect for me and my family then so be it.
“My kids don’t deserve any bullshit on my end. Why should they have to suffer because I want to line my pockets more?”
That was the choice Browne made, but the boxing world doesn’t thrive on nobility. There are just too many cases of fighters shooting their mouths off, backing it up and cashing in. Floyd Mayweather is the global king at capitalising on a polarising public persona. Conor McGregor has followed suit and will never have to work another day in his life after his cross-over bout with the undefeated star.
Now social media performers, like the Paul brothers are using the same plan to turn a profit within the squared circle. Australia’s relationship with boxing is no different. Most sport fans Down Under tune into boxing on a tabloid level and are drawn to the sport by big names and shock statements. Browne says it’s getting harder and harder to make it through the ranks in Australia, especially if you’re not willing to cause a stir.
“I think this is the world we live in. Look at McGregor he made $100 million for just shooting his mouth off,” Browne said.
“You now have all these YouTube people coming out of the woodwork and they’re making more than boxers. I don’t mean the Canelos and all that sort of stuff. An average boxer across the board they don’t make much money.
“Especially Australians they don’t make shit. I know boys in Perth who have to sell tickets to get paid.
“If they don’t they don’t get paid. Its unfortunate these people are making so much money for literally doing nothing and having YouTube channels.”
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