It’s a fight that will fly under the radar for many but, despite the fact the tilt is going down in Toronto, for hard-core Montreal boxing fans, it’s an intriguing match-up for a few different reasons. Adam Green (14-6) vs Patrice Volny (7-0) is a high-stakes fight, a battle between youth and experience, between one man trying to redeem the past and a prospect determined to break through to the next level. Both have a lot riding on this match, but only one can journey back to Montreal with his hopes and ambitions intact. The other man will have to confront a serious setback and re-evaluate his future.
With a modest 20 pro fights to his credit, you can’t exactly call Adam Green a veteran, but there was a time, more than a decade ago, when he looked like he might emerge as one of Quebec’s more successful talents and a top contender in the middleweight division. Known for being an aggressive in-fighter with a mean left hook, Green started boxing when he was 14, winning the Golden Gloves and earning a place on both the Quebec and National teams, going on to become a serious rival of Jean Pascal and Renan St-Juste in the amateur ranks.
The famous Hilton brothers play a large role in the Adam Green story. He started boxing in Jimmy Hilton’s gym in Huntington and he fought two of the other five brothers in the ring, stopping Alex Hilton in six rounds in 2004, and dropping a close decision to Davey Hilton in 2007. In both cases, the Hilton fighters retired and ‘Adam Green’ is the last name on their pro records. Green also retired after the Davey Hilton fight; it was his third consecutive defeat but Adam says the losses had less to do with his decision to walk away than his frustration with the constant demands of the boxing lifestyle.
“I was just tired of being under pressure and always having to diet and watch what I ate,” says Green. “I needed a break.”
But the break stretched into something more than that after Adam’s son was born and both parenting and full-time construction work became his pre-occupations. Time passed and a resumption of Green’s ring career became less and less likely, though it was never far from his mind.
“I didn’t really feel good about how it ended and I kept thinking about a comeback,” says Green. “Boxing is my passion and I was training here and there, running here and there, thinking about it. And then this guy, Daniel Lagrange, started talking about how he wanted to fight me, making these silly videos. I was getting a kick out of it and eventually we met and sparred, but never fought, but he was the spark. He’s the one who brought me back, got me training seriously, taught me a lot of tricks, and was in my corner when I came back and beat Frank Cotroni and Louisbert Altidor.”
But after those two wins, Green got an opportunity that he knew he had to take full advantage of and that meant making a move over to Donnybrook Boxing Gym and replacing Lagrange with trainer Ian MacKillop. After all, at age 36, a chance for a Canadian title means everything.
“I just knew I had to win that fight. I’m grateful to Daniel but Ian has done it all, fought all over the world, won titles, has all that experience, his own gym. Plus I get to spar with guys like Shakeel Phinn. So I knew I had to make that move so I could go over to Saskatoon and bring home that belt.”
And he did just that, stopping Paul Bzdel in round ten and winning a title which clearly means more to him than any he had won before.
“I never trained so hard for a fight,” says Green. “Never was so determined and motivated for a fight. I knew this was it. Win or it’s all over. And I won.”
So often boxing comebacks are bad ideas that only lead to painful regrets, but for Green, returning to the ring after almost eight years away, has been nothing but positive.
“If I didn’t come back, I know, years from now, I’d be sitting there, say 45 or 50 years old, thinking, ‘Should’ve done it. Should’ve tried.’ I’m just so glad I did it.”
Second chances aren’t always possible, but for Green it means even more because when he was younger he didn’t take full advantage of the chances he had.
“I was always attracted to the bad influences,” he says. “Too may bad habits. I just didn’t have the discipline. I wasn’t mentally strong like I am now. I really feel like I’m a better fighter than I ever was before, because of my state of mind, my confidence. No bad habits now.”
But even so, tomorrow night he faces a very dangerous challenge in Patrice “Vicious” Volny, a boxer who is not only younger, but boasts significant advantages in height and reach and, one suspects, punching power. In his last outing, barely a month ago at the Montreal Casino, Volny looked awesome as he overwhelmed his opponent with a two-fisted assault and stopped him in fewer than 50 seconds. What is the game plan for a hungry, young fighter looking for another impressive knockout?
“I’m just gonna do what I do,” says Green. “Put intense pressure on him and wear him down. No mercy. Take him to a place he’s never been before. Come rounds six, seven, he’s gonna be in a world of pain. I’ll be going to the body, getting that left hook in, breaking him down.”
Naturally Green cites experience as his main advantage.
“I’ve been there before. He hasn’t. I’ve gone ten rounds a number of times. I know I can go the distance and I know I can take it if I need to.”
For Volny, while he agrees that “The Green Machine” represents the biggest challenge of his career thus far, he is happy to accommodate the older man if he wants a war.
“Bring it,” says young Patrice. “If you want to come after me, go for it. I hope he does. I love to go to war! If he wants to go toe-to-toe, no problem. I had a great training camp, I’m ready for anything and I know I’m going to get the win.”
But even if Volny does, Adam Green says he isn’t going to stop.
“Win or lose, I’m going to keep fighting, keep going. I’m looking for another belt and a good payday.”
It’s the old story that never gets tired: a crossroads fight, high stakes for both men, Green chasing ghosts, “Vicious” Volny chasing glory. Might be a war to remember tomorrow night at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto. — Michael Carbert