By Derek Bonnett: If Bronco McKart is to be cast in the role of Superman, then I guess that makes Anthony "The Man" Mundine Lex Luther. On Saturday, July 14, McKart and Mundine will collide at the Pearl Theater inside the Palms Casino and Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Truth be told, come fight night, there should be little trouble distinguishing the crowd’s interpretations of hero and villain.
McKart, a former WBO junior middleweight champion, ended a lengthy hiatus from the ring in April with a majority decision over the very game Jose Medina. At forty-one, McKart, 54-9-1 (32), is in his twentieth year as a professional boxer. His championship reign was brief, lasting from March to May of 1996, but McKart remained a perennial contender with victories over Aaron Davis, Santos Cardona, Alex Bunema, and Enrique Ornelas. What has allowed Superman to keep at it so long?
"Constantly staying in the gym, clean living, enjoying every fight like it’s my first, but fighting every fight like it’s my last," McKart replied. "I still have goals to accomplish, and I know it takes hard work, and that’s what I do. I did not have much rust at all [in my last fight], and again, I contribute that to always staying in shape, staying in the gym, and clean living."
The lanky southpaw from Monroe, Michigan does possess a very clean image in the sport. And, anyone who witnessed his 2007 wars with Enrique Ornelas, which saw both men hurt and on the canvas, know McKart is serious about treating every fight like it’s his last. But, those bouts were five years ago and McKart was already perceived to be a fighter in decline. Mundine, 37, is in a similar standing as well after suffering a surprise KO loss to Garth Wood in his native Australia. Mundine had a busy 2011 schedule, in which he avenged the loss to Wood, but has not fought since October. At this stage, what advantages does McKart have over his much maligned nemesis?
"I am coming off a fight just two months ago, so I have no rust," McKart reaffirmed. "I was already in shape when this fight was offered, so I just keep pressing forward. As far as advantages, I cannot say there is advantages on either side going in. I just know I prepared myself mentally and physically to win this fight."
Mundine, a two-time super middle weight champion, said some pretty inflammatory remarks about the USA after our nation’s tragedy on 9-11. Many boxing pundits are surprised to see him finally come to U.S. soil for a bout. As alluded to earlier, McKart can expect to have the Las Vegas crowd behind him from start to finish, but can he turn that into a real advantage for himself?
"Not only am I surprised to see him come here, but surprised that they let him in this country," McKart said. "That was a sad day in America, and his comments were just as sad! To be honest, I cannot lie, [being the crowd favorite] is great, but being a professional, you just try to go in there focused and do what you trained for."
If one is going to surmise one strength in McKart’s favor going into this bout, it is his focus. McKart really would not entertain much talk deviating from what’s in front of him, while Mundine has already released a five-point plan starting with McKart and ending with Floyd Mayweather. Sandwiched in between those two names, Mundine also expressed in interest in facing Austin Trout, Cornelius Bundrage, Saul Alvarez, and Miguel Cotto.
"I may never fight [in Australia] again," Mundine stated in a recent press release. "Once the American people, the critics, the media, [and] the fans [see me], I think they are going to appreciate me more than my own country does. I feel I am the best athlete ever. No one has ever walked in my shoes, not an American, not a European."