By Cody Kaye: “I’ve been around the block man. I’ve got nothing else to prove. But I tell you what, once I win this, no critic, no knocker, no man can say, that I am not the man. That’s what I’m gonna do; I’m gonna prove that I’m the best.’’
These are the words of former WBA super-middleweight champion Anthony “The Man” Mundine, spoken just over a week out from his highly anticipated rematch with compatriot Daniel “The Real Deal” Geale, to be held on January 30, at the Sydney Entertainment Centre.
The pair first met centre ring back in 2009, when Mundine claimed a controversial split decision win over Geale, taking his IBO middleweight title in the process. Four years on, and much has changed in the careers of both fighters – the one constant, however, has been their overwhelming dislike for each other.
Over a career spanning 29 fights, Geale’s only loss has been suffered at Mundine’s hands. Since then, he’s gone on to win both the WBA and IBF middleweight titles on foreign soil, beating Sebastian Sylvester and Felix Sturm in their own backyards.
During that same time, Mundine has gone on to achieve, well, not a whole lot. After dropping down to light middleweight, he pursued an at times laughable
bid to land a shot at Pound for Pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr., culminating in a seventh round stoppage of 41-year old Bronco McKart, a guy whose best years were left well and truly back in the 90’s
“You ask the other guy, he thinks he’s the favourite. I’m going in there with a level head, I know what I need to do. I’m not worried about bookies or anything like that. I’m in control, and I’ve just got to go in there with my plan and make it come through.” Geale is happy to let Mundine do all the talking outside of the ring – an attitude that has seen him win over the Australian public in their droves. “I love fighting in Australia, I love fighting in front of a home crowd, and I’m going to have plenty of support at this one,’’ said Geale.
And he will. No Australian sportsman has ever divided his country the way Mundine has. While his talent, footwork and speed speak for themselves, the quality of opponent he has chosen to fight in recent years, perhaps speaks louder. In 2012, Mundine backed out of a deal to fight undefeated WBA champ Austin Trout – a fight which, had we won, would have seen him propelled back onto the world stage.
Now 37, Mundine has been gifted another chance to take a world title from Geale. “He’s done great things,” Mundine acknowledges. “But when he steps in that ring with me, I’m the best fighter he’s ever been in with. I hurt him more times in our first fight than in both his world title fights… I told you, him at his best, mentally and physically, and me at my best? I’ll beat him one hundred times out of one hundred. Geale can’t beat me. I’m faster than him. I’m stronger than him. The only thing he does consistently and probably better than me is work rate. But this ain’t the amateurs’, baby, this is the pro’s. So you judges and you people out there – when he’s hittin’ air and gloves, and I’m hittin’ face and ribs, score that.”
Geale’s long time promoter is American, Gary Shaw, a man who has well documented connections with the International Boxing Federation. From the moment this rematch was agreed to, Mundine has questioned Shaw’s relationship with the IBF, suggesting the only way he will lose a decision to Geale is if the judges are in Shaw’s pocket.
“It’s just another tactic to try and throw me off,” argues Geale. “You know what he’s like, he’s going to make up all the excuses under the sun. And you know what? That’s fine. That’s the way he goes about things, and once he gets beat, then guess what, there’s gonna be another excuse there too.”