Lucas Browne is under fire for trying to walk away from a fight with Canberra's Arsene Fosso, with a matchmaker adamant the former world heavyweight champion is "scared" a loss will end his career.
It comes after former world title contender Alex Leapai fired a shot of his own, telling The Canberra Times if "you imagine a big man with tattoos wearing a skirt, that's Lucas Browne".
Browne is supposed to face Cameroonian heavyweight Fosso in Canberra in April before taking on rising star Justis Huni in July, as part of a two-fight deal with Dean Lonergan's D&L Events.
But now the 41-year-old claims he has agreed to fight Paul Gallen on April 14, telling the former NRL star the onus is on Gallen's promoter Matt Rose to sort the finer details.
A fight under Rose's No Limit Boxing banner would mean Rose needs to effectively buy Browne out of his contract with Lonergan's promotion.
Lonergan is working with Capital Fight Promotions to deliver Fosso's bout with Browne on a blockbuster card slated for the weekend of April 23-24, which could feature the likes of Brock Jarvis and Issac Hardman.
Browne looms as a major drawcard but frustrated matchmaker Adam Lovelock says "his word means nothing", concerned the veteran could walk out on his deal as he did with emerging prospect Demsey McKean in December 2019.
"He has bad-mouthed every single promoter and says he is never going to fight in Australia again, and then when he does sign a contract to do it he just reneges on it," Lovelock said.
"The most frustrating thing for us is we're trying to plan an event around him with him being on it, and then he gets that close to the mark, pulls out of it and wants to go and sign another contract and says 'it's with the promoters'. His word means nothing.
"Arsene is pumped to get in there with him and have that opportunity. Arsene will fight anybody, and I think it's a fight Arsene will win as well.
"Lucas Browne is a big, heavy guy and has a strong punch, but he will fight to the tempo he is allowed to fight at.
"Arsene couldn't keep up with that velocity of punches and that tempo Justis gave him, but someone like Lucas who is just going to slow it down and go shot for shot, he won't be able to hurt Arsene at all.
"Arsene will knock him out, Arsene will end his career, you watch. He's scared of fighting Arsene because it will end his career.
"That's why he doesn't want to take this fight and he is looking at a much easier option against an NRL player in Gallen, why else would he be pulling out of his fights?"
Browne is the final step on Huni's road to the Olympic Games, with the Australian heavyweight champion mapping out a path to Tokyo where he will chase an historic gold medal.
Huni hit a fork in the road when a concussion ruled him out of a bout in Townsville next week, but Browne remains in Lonergan's plans for the prodigiously talented 21-year-old.
Leapai has also been a part of those plans. The veteran himself has seemingly been on a collision course with Browne for years but a bout has never eventuated between the pair.
"I've been chasing that guy for years. I think he should wear a skirt man, he should wear a skirt," Leapai told The Canberra Times in December.
"You imagine a big man with tattoos wearing a skirt, that's Lucas Browne. I've been calling him out for so many years, and I think it's time for him to take the fight and let's get it on.
"It's going to be good for him and it's good for me. It's good for Australian boxing.
"I've been offered a few fights, and offered a few overseas too, but I'm not really interested in overseas at the moment because of COVID.
"You've got fights here, like Justis Huni and Lucas Browne. I'm still waiting to hear from Lucas Browne, but all we can do is just keep training. Whatever pops up, we'll be ready to go."