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Tony Abbott Would Lose In A Fight With Judo Pro Vladimir Putin, Russian Diplomat Hints

14/10/2014 13:39 BST | Updated 14/10/2014 21:59 BST

One is a Speedo-wearing boxing pro, the other is a judo-loving former KGB agent - the question is, who would win in a fight between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott?

The Russians have made it clear they're not in the slightest bit intimidated after Abbott yesterday threatened to get physical with their leader.

The Australian Prime Minister said he would "shirtfront" the Russian president - a slang Aussie term for a head-on shoulder charge to an opponent's chest aimed at knocking the opponent to the ground.

abbott putin

Mano e mano

The heated comment came as it emerged Abbott intends to have a one-on-one meeting with Putin on the sidelines of a summit of the world's 20 biggest economies in Brisbane next month. There, he'll demand Russian cooperation with a Dutch-led investigation into the shooting down of a Malaysia airliner in Ukraine by Russian-backed separatists with the loss of 298 lives in July.

But a Russian diplomat on Tuesday unblinkingly dismissed the Aussie PM's threat as "immature", ominously highlighting that Putin, who is also best pals with martial arts maestro Stephen Seagal, would make a fearsome adversary in a punch-up.

In what could be an epic display of fisticuffs between two world leaders, Abbott is an athletic 56-year-old former amateur boxer who famously punched his Treasurer Joe Hockey unconscious when they were both Sydney University students decades ago, while Putin is a 62-year-old former KGB officer and a judo black belt.

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Sporty Tony Abbott

Alexander Odoevski, third secretary of the Russian Embassy in Canberra, described Abbott's threat as unhelpful.

"We consider the recent statements tough talk; we consider it immature," Odoevski told Australian Associated Press.

"Hopefully there's no fight. Well, definitely we admire the Australian prime minister. He's very fit, but the Russian president, he's a professional judo wrestler," Odoevski told Ten Network television.

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Sporty Tony Abbott

Abbott's threat may have been hyperbole, but the Russian embassy's rare public response underscored what has been a deepening bilateral rift.

The Australian leader toned down his language on Tuesday, failing to directly answer questions about whether he would carry through with his threat against Putin - ruining journalistic dreams of a Rocky-style showdown worldwide.

I am "absolutely determined to have a very robust conversation with the Russian President," Abbott told reporters.

"We've all seen the impact of Russian policy on the innocent people on board Flight MH17. I think the very least I can do, speaking for Australia's dead and speaking for the families of Australia's dead and indeed speaking for the world's victims is to have a very robust conversation with President Putin," he added.

Odoevski said Putin was preparing to only attend the multilateral meeting of government leaders.

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Sporty Tony Abbott

"There has not been a request for bilateral meetings between Russian and Australian leaders, so we are not exactly sure where and when Prime Minister Abbott would like to shirtfront President Putin," he said.

Abbott explained that no request for a bilateral meeting had been made yet because his program had yet to be finalised.

"But I certainly expect that while he's a guest of Australia, he will undertake to have a conversation with the Australian prime minister," Abbott said.

A senator for the Palmer United Party, Jacqui Lambie, said in a statement that Abbott and opposition leader Bill Shorten, who has called on Putin to pull out of the G20 summit, should "stop acting like hormone-affected school boys trying to out-macho each other" and keep lines of communications open with Russia.

Sporty Tony Abbott