MELBOURNE - Newly-crowned boxing world champion Danny Green revealed he was forced to fight for the title against Kiwi Shane Cameron with broken ribs.
The veteran Australian won the International Boxing Organisation cruiserweight world champion title after overcoming Cameron in an old-school brawl at Melbourne's Hisense Arena.
The victory was Green's fourth world title with a unanimous points decision; reclaiming the IBO crown that he lost last year to American Antonio Tarver, who was later stripped for doping, which left the belt vacant.
The 39-year-old said it was one of the best moments of his long and tumultuous career.
Green revealed post-fight that a body blow by Cameron re-injured his ribs in the first round, and he endured the 12-round war struggling for breath.
He said he almost called the fight off when he suffered the injury during sparring just over a month ago.
"He broke them again in round one," Green said.
"Breathing out is difficult ... but if that's what it takes to be a world champion you suck it up and deal with it."
He said Cameron picked up on the injury and tagged it throughout.
The West Australian, who is still considering whether to box on or retire again, showed he still had the speed and firepower to outclass his bigger opponent.
The three judges scored the fight 119-109, 116-112 and 116-113.
Green's record is now 33-5 after 11 years in the game. From Auckland, natural heavyweight Cameron had to shed almost eight kilos to make the catch-weight of 89kg — under the regulation cruiserweight mark of 90.7.
After sending American Monte Barrett to the canvas in spectacular fashion in his last start, Cameron was expected to bully Green but the Green Machine had his measure.
Cameron's hefty weight loss didn't appear to affect his stamina and he continued to stand up in the face of some heavy blows from Green, while landing a few himself.
Green said his experience was key as he was able to adapt.
"I didn't plan to stand toe to toe as much but that's just the way it happened.
"I was experienced enough to adapt.
"I'm very proud to have won my fourth world title in a hell of a school scrap, a rough and tumble kind of a brawl against a banger and tough coin."
The Australian didn't believe Cameron was disadvantaged by the big weight loss.
"We out-muscled and out-belted a big man, he's No.9 heavyweight in the world," he said.
"I jumped on him and I shocked him."
Trailing on points with only a round to go, the only way Cameron was going to become the first New Zealand-born professional boxer in more than a century to win a world title was a knock-out but Green was never going to let that happen.