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Why Greene’s fight means more: ‘I can moan or suck it up’

Every fighter has a reason for stepping into the ring and, more often than not, they do it for someone else.

Locking themselves away for a long, arduous training camp only seems rewarding at the very end; knowing that, when they hear the opening bell – and see the faces of their loved ones surrounding them – all of the sacrifice had been worth it.

For Louis Greene, a desire to fight and, above all else, defeat his last opponent in emphatic fashion, was revealed by the name of a five-year-old girl embroidered on his shorts.

“I’ve got three kids. I had kids very young. The worst thing you can ever hear as a parent is that your child is ill, and that they’re not going to live,” he said, speaking about his friend’s daughter, Harriet, who has been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour.

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Highlights of Greene’s thrilling fight against Sam Gilley last October

“I hear a lot of people complain about their lives, complain about how hard things are, say that they’re struggling. And I get that. But when my friend spoke to me, I couldn’t get my head around how he could speak. I couldn’t even speak. I just felt awful for him.

“I promised this little girl that I would win, so I didn’t want to let her down. She had an operation two days ago, and I just wanted to put a bit of excitement and light back in her life again.”

Greene returned to the win column when he produced a first-round stoppage of Jack McGann on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s victory over Francis Ngannou.

But the performance was somewhat eclipsed by his viral post-fight interview when, without hesitation, he took the opportunity to confront those who had overlooked him, delivering his words in the most authentic way possible.

“It was an accident,” he said. “I went to get out the ring and they said: ‘nah, you’ve got to do an interview’.

“I didn’t realise that what I was about to say would prick up the ears of so many people. Even yesterday, my phone was pinging and it was people re-sharing it.”

BEN SHALOM BOXXER FIGHT NIGHT.21/10/2023 YORK HALL, BETHNAL GREEN.PIC LAWRENCE LUSTIG/BOXXER.(PICS FREE FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY).COMMONWEALTH SUPER WELTERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP & BRITISH SUPER WELTERWEIGHT FINAL ELIMINATOR.LOUIS GREENE V SAM GILLEY
Image: Gilley and Greene produced one of the fights of the year at York Hall

Being written off is one thing, but responding to setbacks, bouncing back from a defeat and proving people wrong is something that Greene has done time and time again.

He said: “After a loss, I can sit there and moan, making my own life harder, or I can suck it up, and start from scratch. You can’t be taught that mindset, you’re born with it.

“People said: ‘Oh, but [McGann] is big, he’s done this and that’. And I’d just say: ‘well it’s a good thing that I’m fighting him because, if you got in there with that mindset, you’d get your arse handed to you’.”

With four losses on his record, it is easy to cast Greene aside without considering the mental resolve it has taken for him to get this far.

Having encountered problems outside of the ring growing up, Greene swiftly realised that he needed to provide for his first-born son, and took the necessary steps to change his outlook.

“I’ve always had a bit of a wild tendency, maybe that’s another thing that you’re born with,” Greene said.

“But I didn’t want to go out and do what I was doing before. I just wanted to be around him [his son] when he was giggling and messing around. He made a man out of me from a very young age.”

While he found boxing around a similar time, training at Bodyshots, Dartford, Greene never expected to make a living from the sport, not even when he turned professional in 2015.

Now fighting up at super welterweight, the Medway Mauler campaigned at 140 lbs when he was cutting his teeth on the small hall scene – and working a full-time job up until a few days before some fights meant that shifting the weight became even harder.

“I’d get up at 4am, before work, and train in the gym or go for a run. Then I would finish work, which was very physical anyway, and go back to the gym,” he said.

“I was at this metal firm, and I used to run to the canteen, eat some peanut butter for my lunch and think to myself: yeah, that’ll do me for a while. Then I would head round to Bodyshots, step onto the scales and be bang on the weight.

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Gilley and Greene voiced their respect after an epic bout

“You couldn’t catch me in an office reading paperwork so, instead, I was out on the yard with this massive hammer, scraping all the metal out, lifting it and then dragging it around. I was always starving.”

It never got any easier for Greene as, days before his first loss to Larry Ekundayo, he found himself living out of his car. As a father of three, he suddenly had nothing.

Then, after nearly giving up on boxing, he got a job laying down and repairing watermains, which helped to build up his strength ahead of the McGann fight.

Greene said: “You’re at it all day, digging holes in any weather. If you can’t use the digger then you’ve got to use a shovel. And you’ve got to dig deep, all the way down. It’s like going to the gym.

“When I was doing a bit of groundwork, we had to lay kerbs. They’re big, and thick, and they weigh a tonne. So I was running these kerbs up and down a hill all day.”

At 31, Greene has decided to quit his job, something he never thought would become a reality. This means that, finally, he can train as a full-time athlete.

With his sights set firmly on a shot at the British title, Greene anticipates that a rematch against Sam Gilley will come later this year.

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Speaking on Toe2Toe, Olly Murs says he would walk out friend and Commonwealth super-welterweight champion Sam Gilley out in a world title fight, but Sam had other ideas

With his sights set firmly on a shot at the British title, Greene anticipates that a rematch against Sam Gilley will come later this year.

However, following their enthralling fight-of-the-year contender in 2023, he knows that, despite his gallant performance, he will need to approach their next encounter differently.

He said: “I didn’t feel like I’d lost when I got out the ring, because of how exciting the fight was.

“Everyone was raving about the fight, so I didn’t look at that loss like it was a shutout.

“There was a lot of grit and guts shown by both men, but now I have to knock this man out.”

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