Its an unusal one for some of us Stateside. Every once in a while we get a boxing match with breakfast and almost always the fighters hail from Oceania and the Far East. While not necessarily relevant to the hegemony of the welterweight division, Friday’s Aussie grudge match between Jeff Horn and Anthony Mundine had a morbid curiosity to it.
The catch though was that there was less than one round of it.
Horn (19-1-1 12KO) ended Mundine’s long career with a first-round blowout knockout and it showed, with Mundine (48-9 28KO) agreeing in the more amicable post-fight press conference congratulating Horn and stating that he just doesn’t have it anymore.
The final punch was an accurate left hook, but it didn’t seem to have much momentum on it, yet that was irrelevant. Mundine still couldn’t take it in the concise catchweight 156 pound bout.
Horn, 30, was the former World Boxing Organization welterweight champion, defeating with controversy in 2017 the legendary Manny Pacquaio, in the same place he stopped Mundine, 43, in Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia. He made one gritty defense against Brit Gary Corcoran stopping him in the eleventh before losing his strap to Terence Crawford in what was a skills showcase for the native Nebraskan in June of this year.
Perhaps Horn should have been allowed to finish once he was there with Crawford, but it was evident he shouldn’t have been in the ring with one of the pound-for-pound bests in the sport to begin with.
As a boxing fan, I like and understand these fights just as much as your top title fights. Boxing fans should want to watch these second-tier contests. If one is only going to pay attention to the vanguard of the sport such as Crawford, Errol Spence, Vasyl Lomachenko et. al. well you’re going to miss out on some great action and entertainment.
Everyone reacted to the prefight antics between the two Australian fighters. The face-off where Mundine grabbed Horn by the throat, the trash talking. For a fight that many commenters called pointless, everyone sure wanted to watch or catch up on the fight when they woke up, regardless.
Horn is looking to keep his name in boxing news, he’s no longer a world champion in what many eyes is the most talented division in boxing. While he’s proven that he’s not one of the elites, but he’s also shown to be a handful. His awkwardness and toughness are undeniable, and that can make sure his future challengers can’t afford to have an off night with him, deficient skills be damned.
Horn will still have his fans hoping he can defy convention once again the way he did with Pacquaio, and his many detractors will lament his murky victory over the Filipino and condemn his questionable ring tactics and use of his elbows and head. Love him or hate him, he’s staying for now.
Mundine, ironically was also trying to stretch out a career short on relevance. Nearing his mid-40’s, and now losing his last five of nine contests Mundine has a fair share of accomplishment to boast about; crossing over from Rugby League successfully to boxing, being a former world champion in multiple weight classes, etc. His performance today hence has shown his vehicle was running on fumes.
It’s not a surprise to see older fighters, like Mundine, to want to emulate Bernard Hopkins. Bernard is the standard. A world level talent who can compete almost in middle-age. Hopkins, however is a one-of-a-kind fighter. We may never see a fighter who can compete at the top at fifty years old, and surely that fighter isn’t Mundine.
Mundine himself though was a unique sports figure, he had cut his own trail into the sweet science in a way that won’t be seen again for quite a while. How many athletes are there, who, after a considerable period of success in one sport choose the conquer the individual mental and physical challenges that boxing brings forth? He deserves a lot of credit in that regard, although he certainly didn’t the conclusion he had hoped for. Boxing isn’t really the sport of happy endings.
Over a lengthy track, Mundine had faced the likes of Sven Ottke, Mikkel Kessler, had heated rivalries with fellow Aussies Danny Green and Daniel Geale, and a long faded Shane Mosely who he stopped in 2007. Mundine has had a public profile as checkered as his boxing record, polarizing fans over the years with quarrelsome statements over subjects such as Islam, treatment of aborigines, (Mundine is part aborigines himself) and racism.
With Mundine calling the finale, Horn, with a dominant first-round win remains in the distant periphery in one of boxing’s banner divisions. Now a secondary title holder again, if Horn continues to win, he’ll persist to be a pest to boxing fans looking forward to the ascendency of other stars, a role one can safely assume he revels in.