FORMER world heavyweight champion Lucas Browne has vowed not to let Paul Gallen off the hook when they meet in Wollongong in April after promotors confirmed the WIN Entertainment Centre will host the heavyweight blockbuster.
The April 21 showdown promises to be the most watched heavyweight bout in Australian boxing history, with Gallen (10-0-1) and Browne (29-2) to go toe-to-toe over six rounds in the biggest fight at the WEC since Anthony Mundine took on Wollongong's Shannan Taylor in 2009.
Gallen last fought in December against Mark Hunt, a bout in which he was wobbled early but fought back to defeat the MMA legend by unanimous decision. It was an impressive comeback but Browne - who boasts 25 knockouts in 29 wins - says he won't be giving out any second chances should he land flush.
"I don't allow anyone off the hook, that's every single person I've ever fought," Browne said.
"You look at Mark Hunt, he's been around for yonks and done it at all levels, but you can't come into a boxing fight against someone like Gallen at 128 kilos and expect to do well. He let himself down by not coming in in the right shape, where I definitely will be. That's the major difference right there.
"You can tell, when he got him, he clipped him and rocked him but then he just didn't follow up with it. One of the things I've always done, without a doubt, is make sure I follow up and smash. My boxing IQ is so much better [than Hunt's], it's chalk and cheese.
"The moment I rock someone I smell blood and away I go. He's not going to be let off in any way shape or form."
Browne is Australia's first world heavyweight champion after stopping rugged Uzbekistani Ruslan Chagaev in Russia in 2016 and will likely start favourite, though the 41-year-old has fought just twice in the last two years, with the COVID pandemic derailing plans to fight in the UK where the heavyweight ranks are stacked.
It's seen him turn his attention to the domestic scene and sign on for the bout with the former NSW Origin skipper after years trading verbal barbs over a potential bout.
"It's always been spoken about backwards and forwards," Browne said.
"I thought at that initial stage I had bigger things on my plate in regards to actual boxing rather than fighting him. I was supposed to fight in Vegas in March last year and literally two weeks before COVID hit and that derailed those plans and obviously things in the UK as well.
"Unfortunately [COVID] happened, here I am, I'll take out Australia and start with Gallen. At the end of the day, if he loses to me he's lost to a former world champion, if I lose to him I've lost to a footballer. It's heavyweight boxing, no matter how you look at it, anything can happen. That's also the beauty of heavyweight boxing.
"My last fight was November 2019 and it was against [John] Hopoate so that's not what I want to leave my career on. It's been over a year at [age] 41 and that's pretty sad so I just can't wait to get back in the ring and put on a show."
Gallen's put his money where his mouth is to make the fight happen in sacrificing $100,000 from his guaranteed purse to pay promotor Dean Lonergan who has promotional rights to Browne's scheduled July bout with rising star Justis Huni.
While the gap in experience leaves Gallen the outsider in the bout, but the 39-year-old insists his rival's overall record is nothing to be intimidated by.
"I'm taking a hundred thousand dollars less to make this fight happen. That's an absolute fact," Gallen said.
"His promotor [Lonergan] wanted a hundred thousand dollars to make the fight happen and let's declare why he wants that money. [Browne's] fighting Justis Huni in July and he's getting paid a hundred thousand for that fight.
"If Lucas does what everyone thinks he's going to do to me they'd double or triple their revenue for that fight, but he's not that confident of Lucas beating me. We all know he's got power but I don't think he's the greatest boxer.
"I'm not sitting here saying I'm a world-beater, I know who I've beaten, but I look at his record and there's very few blokes on it I wouldn't fight. You take out his two losses, one bloke [Dillian White] almost killed him, the other bloke [David Allen] beat him in round two. Apart from the guy he fought for his world title [Chagaev], there's no else on there I wouldn't fight."