July 2, 2001 –By Paul Upham: Tomorrow marks the first 12 months of Anthony Mundine’s (pictured) professional boxing career. After an impressive first year in the sport, the undefeated IBF Pan Pacific and PABA super middleweight champion is now travelling to Canada to make an impact on the international scene.
Mundine 7-0 (6) will face journeyman Kevin Pompey, 32-17-3 (12), on July 10 on the undercard of the Eric Lucas vs. Glenn Catley fight for the vacant WBC super middleweight title at the Molson Centre in Montreal, Canada. To be televised as part of ESPN2’s Tuesday Night Fights in the USA, it is a tremendous opportunity for “The Man” to show the world that he is a real rising star.
“It’s an opportunity for me. I’m going to make every post a winner. I’m going box superior look good and show everything that I showed in my last fight,” said Mundine, who was originally slated to face Alex Hilton, who decided against taking the fight.
Pompey has had a long career stretching back to July 1987 and has fought opponents such as Omar Sheika, Don Lalonde, Laurent Boudouani, Eric Lucas and Markus Beyer over the last four years. And Mundine sees Pompey as a good opponent to give him a few rounds so he can show his style and gain experience. “The guy I’m fighting has been around and is a good journeyman. He’s been in with six world champions and has got a ton of experience. I really want to make him look just as bad as the rest of them. Let them know that no matter who they put me in there with, I’m going to be superior,” said Mundine, who receives satisfaction from knowing that there is already fighters out there who are declining to face him. “It feels good. I wouldn’t want to fight me either. They’ve got something to lose because I am the next thing. I’m the next big thing baby!”
A former rugby league super-star with the St. George-Illawarra Dragons, Mundine retired from the sport early in 2000 at the age of 25 to pursue his dream of becoming a boxing world champion. Mundine’s father and trainer Tony was a world rated middleweight who fought world champion Carlos Monzon in Argentina in 1974.
Known as “The Man”, the 26 year-old Mundine was an exciting rugby league player with exceptional athletic ability. He has carried his speed to the ring and has easily won his first seven fights and collected the Australian, PABA and IBF Pan Pacific super middleweight titles. Father Tony was very impressed with his son’s last win on June 18 against Mike Makata and is confident of even better performances in the future.
“I thought he boxed pretty well. Nice and smart. I told him to go out there and do the job, hit and run,” said Mundine Sr. “In my opinion he’s only at 70%.” A former Commonwealth champion in two weight divisions, Tony Mundine himself is even surprised at his son’s rapid success. “Unbelievable. We had a little trouble early on, but after we got over that hurdle, it’s just been getting bigger and bigger,” said Mundine Sr.
“He’s shaking the world and everyone knows about him. Everyone want’s to fight him and they want three times the money. It’s a big job for Anthony after only seven fights to go over there and fight a guy like Kevin Pompey. He’s going to be cautious, ready to fire and do the job. Another four more fights and he will be on top of the world.”
Anthony Mundine was happy with his last win over Makata, where he showed more of his explosive punching power which nearly knocked his opponent through the ropes. “I’ve watched the tape a few times and I totally looked in control. I looked fit. I’m quick and strong. I feel I’m getting stronger every time I step into the ring. I’m getting more experience and I’m going up against guys with even more experience. I’m doing it and doing it in style, which I am happy about.
“I made him miss. I do it well making them miss and countering. Setting them up for a shot. It’s all about being smart and being intelligent, boxing style,” said Mundine, who added, “I proved that once again, I am the Man.”
Is Mundine happy with the success of his first 12 months in the sport after his seven years in rugby league and only a handful of amateur fights before he turned 18? “Of course. Look at the record. I’ve really shocked the boxing world, not just Australia. They all know about me. They are going to get a piece of me when I fight in Canada.”
Rated IBF No.14 and WBC No.30, Mundine is hoping to fast track his way to a world title shot with an impressive performance in Montreal that will expose him to a huge international audience. Along with a huge ESPN2 audience in the USA, the card will be available on pay-per-view in Canada and in Australia on Main Event pay-per-view and Fox Pub and Club Vision.
Mundine flew out from Sydney for Canada on Sunday morning and wanted to give himself plenty of time to get ready for his first overseas fight. “I really want to come in fresh. If I come in only three or four days before the fight there’s no way your body can acclimatise and feel good,” said Mundine. “I’m going to win the crowd and then I’m going to win my freedom. The crowd is going to love me because I am a showman. I’m going to be cocky and I’m going to entertain.”
To become the best in the world, Mundine knows that his next fight can set himself up for even bigger fights in the future. He will be able to see the new WBC super middleweight champion first hand and the fans will be able to see how he compares to world title contenders Eric Lucas and Glenn Catley.
“They are going to want me back, there is no doubt about that. They are all going to be chasing me after this fight,” said Mundine. After a fairy tale first year in his boxing career, what can the fans expect in the next 12 months? “Miracles!” he says laughing. “I’m serious, miracles. I want to shock the world. I want to become the best athlete ever. That’s my goal.”