Anthony Mundine has always had a complicated relationship with logic.
Logic once told ‘The Man’ that leaving behind a $600,000 contract with the Dragons to take up boxing, with no amateur experience, was a hugely risky proposition.
Fifty-eight fights and $34 million later, it’s easy to understand why Mundine places no relevance in conventional thinking.
And who could blame him? More often than not the Australian sporting icon has redefined the limits of what athletes can achieve by not giving any credence to the status quo.
This time, logic suggests the 45-year-old has next to no chance against Michael Zerafa on March 13 at Bendigo Stadium. Zerafa, 17 years younger than the former league player, is a $1.06 favourite with bookmakers. Mundine is paying $7.75 for the win.
Not everybody is on board with Mundine’s plans to return, after Main Event turned its back on the fighter, forcing him to stream the clash for $29.95 on www.mundine.tv. Jeff Fenech has expressed fears for Mundine’s health. His father also holds reservations. Fans and members of the media feel the same.
Despite an avalanche of opposition, within minutes of talking to ‘The Man’, it’s clear his level of confidence is unswayed.
“I’m going to give him a reality check and redeem myself and get all of the glory from it. Nobody thinks I’m going to win,” he told Wide World of Sports.
“Bro, If I win this fight I’m back in the game and have a lot more options. If something motivates me to fight again, maybe fight for a world title or a big-money fight.”
No big deal right? Mundine has said far crazier things about far crazier things. And you can’t expect anything less from him especially when he’s selling possibly his last fight. But more often than not these things don’t end well; he must know that.
While Mundine will swear he truly believes he can beat Zerafa to cause one of the biggest upsets in boxing history, even the most ardent Mundine supporter can’t ignore his recent track record and the pitfalls of similar comebacks by other boxers throughout the history of the sport.
Mundine has lost four of his last five fights. His last outing against John Wayne Parr in November 2019 was supposed to see Mundine sail into the sunset but a split decision loss changed all that.
Before the loss to the kickboxing icon, Mundine suffered one of the worst defeats of his career with a first round KO loss to Jeff Horn. But Mundine swears there was more to the story behind the Horn fight. The Queenslander’s camp conspired to have him at his weakest by placing weight restrictions on him hours out from the fight, he claims.
Horn scores controversial win over Zerafa
“He drained me down to 71kg but then they made me weigh in again an hour before the fight and I couldn’t be more than 75kg. So I couldn’t even put on four kilos. They knew what they were doing, it was strategic and wasn’t right,” Mundine explains.
Mundine reckons this time he’ll be a “different beast”, shrugging off concerns about his health and the amount of punishment he’s copped. He says he’s only been stopped four times during his boxing career and claims to have suffered more concussions playing league.
One excellent performance can never be discounted from a professional athlete, especially one as talented as Mundine. His supporters could point to several examples of fighters coming back to shock the world, when everybody thought they were finished.
Horn says ‘The Man’ is different ‘behind closed doors’
George Foreman was out of the heavyweight division for 10 years only to return and become the weight’s oldest ever champion when he stunned Michael Moorer, aged 45.
After being floored for the first time in his career in a win over Kevin Howard in 1984, ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard retired from the sport, only to return three years later to beat Marvin Hagler over 15 legendary rounds.
The comeback is etched into boxing’s DNA, although one can’t ignore the huge disparity in age and how much of a factor that will play. Despite approaching 50, Mundine acknowledges the question of age with optimism.
“I’m still youthful, energetic. I’m seasoned and experienced. Doesn’t matter how old he is. I wish he was younger,” Mundine said.
“I’m going to talk to him the whole fight. Every round. I’ll hit him with a jab and say, ‘Gotcha’. I’m going to get into his head.
“He’d be lucky to beat me when I’m 50. I wanna let the older fellas know it ain’t over until it’s over, baby.”
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