WHEELING-When a boxer trains for a specific fight and that fight doesn't happen for various reasons, it not only frustrates that boxer, but it makes him even more hungry.
For the last two weeks, Ronell Green has been starving for a fight ever since an opponent from New Jersey pulled out of an Aug. 8 pro bout on a card at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh promoted by Roy Jones Jr.
"They said he had a stomach virus or something," the 25-year-old Green said Tuesday afternoon prior to a training session at the Bullpen Fight Club, which is located in East Wheeling's Nelson Jordan Center. "I stayed in shape by continuing to train hard because my coach (Mike Napple) told me you never know when that next call to fight will come."
Green (10-0-0, 5KOs) didn't have to wait long for that call, according to his coach.
"When we were in California a while ago, I made some contacts," Napple explained. "One of those guys called me and asked if we'd be willing to take a fight against a world contender. I thought it was the right time and the right place for Ronnell, so I said 'yes.'
"The thing I'm the most proud about Ronell is the way he handled the fight being canceled," Napple said. "I told him that happens at least once in every world champion's career. Sometimes it ends a fighter's career because they feel all the training they put in was for nothing. Not Ronell. He's stayed in shape and kept training. He has handled himself extremely professional."
Green and his entourage left the Ohio Valley this morning via plane en route to Sacramento. The featherweight fight against hometown favorite Guy Robb (13-1-0, 5KOs) is set for Friday night inside the Sports Center in Fairfield, some 30 miles from Sacramento.
It is scheduled for eight 3-minute rounds and will be nationally televised on FSP1 (Comcast channel 271), starting at 10 p.m. locally. It is sponsored by Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions.
"I'm excited and in the best shape of my career," Green, a former standout wrestler at Wheeling Park High School, added. "I think the fight is going to go really well for me."
According to Napple, a former two-time Ohio Valley Toughman champion and accomplished boxer himself as the "Raging Bull", Robb is ranked No. 2 in the NABU and No. 81 in the world, while Green checks in at 12th and 471st, respectively.
"He's a tough fighter, but for our system and the way Ronnell is fighting right now, he's tailor-made for us," Napple said of Robb. "He's the hometown guy and everyone out there thinks he's going to win the fight. They have no idea who Ronnell is and what our plan is. We got this fight first and Robb didn't want to fight us, but the other guy didn't want to fight either, so Robb took it."
Green won't be fazed by being considered the underdog.
"This is the biggest fight of my career. I've been training for a fight like this all my life," he allowed. "I expect a lot of boos, but I also expect a lot of aahs when I hit him. I need to go out there, find my range and try to lay him out."
According to Green, who weighed it at 131 with clothes on Tuesday, and Napple, Robb is described as a "Mexican-type" of fighter that comes at you.
"He's an aggressive fighter that comes straight forward," Green revealed. "We've been game-planning for that type of fight."
Napple said, "Robb likes to press the fight ... continually come at you. We're going to jab him in the face and hit him from all angles. Ronnell moves really well and is very quick.
"Robb's not used to that style of fighter because he is used to fighting fighters that are the same style as he is," Napple continued. "We will be a definite gear change for him."
Green last fought on Feb. 7 when he posted a unanimous 6-round decision over Johnny Frazier inside Weirton's Serbian American Cultural Center. He fought four times in 2013. Robb, whose only loss came when undefeated Joel Diaz knocked him out on Dec. 16, 2001, in Las Vegas, has won six straight bouts, the most recent being a 6-round unanimous decision over Daniel Ramirez at Cache Creek Casino and Resort in Brooks, Ca.
While Napple admits this is a huge step up, he is more than confident his fighter will step up to the challenge and bring some notoriety of the sport to the Ohio Valley.
"This fight is really big for us, not only Ronnell but every young fighter in the Ohio Valley," he said. "We've got a lot of young talent at the Bullpen Fight Club and there's a lot of talent in other gyms around. Ronnell got a marquee fight, but with a win it will skyrocket him to bigger and better things. It will also let people know where Wheeling and the Ohio Valley are.
"The sky is the limit for this kid," Napple said of Green. "We've been knocking on the door for a couple of years. Now it's time to kick it in."
Also in Green's corner will be his father, Ron Sr.
"Without coach Napple and my dad, I wouldn't be where I am today," Ronnell revealed. "I learn something new each day during our gym sessions. They both really work me hard, along with my teammates."
North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org