Mundine vs McKart: The Man loses credibility
Boxer Anthony Mundine (Image: Peter McDermott)
The hype and conjecture has been out in huge levels in the past two weeks as Anthony Mundine’s next fight approaches.
Mundine, always a crafty and persasive media performer, has been out selling the spectacle of his bout with 41-year old Bronco ‘Superman’ McKart.
He’s been telling everyone around that it’s the first step towards a clash with Floyd Mayweather, that its part of a five fight plan to get him the undefeated ‘Money’, that only Mayweather and the the very top of the boxing world can beat him, that’s he going to “shock the world”, that he’s the best athlete ever etc etc.
Mundine’s also been saying that he probably won’t fight again in Australia, that the Americans will embrace him better than Australia ever has, and so on.
Problem is, the facts don’t really back him up. The showman that is ‘The Man’ is 37-years old, has a busted hip and is running out of hyperbole.
McKart is hardly a step to anything – he’s an old southpaw middleweight who is rated 65th, yes 65th in the world by BoxRec. McKart is a veteran who is looking for a final pay day, has trouble handling fighters with speed and has lost against all of the quality fighters he has faced in his career, from Roman Karmazin to Kelly Pavlik to Winky Wright.
Yes, he held a WBO title, once, but that was in 1996 and he couldn’t successfully defend it once.
McKart is no match for Mundine. The only surprise will be if Mundine doesn’t secure the win inside the first six to eight rounds. Sure, every boxer handpicks opponents from time-to-time, but should Mundine be doing it at this point in his career, when he says publicly he wants to take on the best? The words are not backing up the actions.
He had the opportunity to fight undefeated Austin Trout, a 26-year old light middleweight who holds the WBA world title and is ranked fifth in the world by BoxRec. It could have been WBA champion versus WBA champion (don’t get me started on the farcical situation where the WBA has three champions at the same weight). Who is ranked above Trout? Just Mayweather, Saul Alvarez, Cornelius Bundrage and Miguel Cotto, that’s all.
But Mundine refused to fight Trout because the American is a “nobody”. Trout labelled Mundine a “joke” in reply and said: “How do you conquer America by backing out of world title fights?”.
Trout has a point.
Trout might not be a huge name, but is certainly a bigger name than McKart. In reality there are only two reasons that Mundine turned down a Trout bout – the money wasn’t enough for him, or Trout was too dangerous an opponent to fight.
Surely at this point money cannot be the only thing motivating Mundine, and it is a chance to achieve greatness and secure a real legacy that drives him. Trout’s recent win over Delvin Rodriguez looks to have earned him a showdown with Saul Alvarez, further evidence that Mundine is sprouting rubbish and really wants an easier route.
Mundine says he wants a showdown with Alavrez, the 21-year old Mexican wonderkid. If he had beaten Trout, he probably would have that, and if he could defeat Alvarez then a fight with Mayweather would materalise. Instead we have ‘The Man’ against ‘Superman’, a creation of the superhero that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster would laugh at.
Mundine remains a polarising figure in Australian sport, but there is a lot he should be proud of. He has helped bring Australian boxing off the canvas, he has breathed life into a sport that was in its death throes. He has done a lot for his community, and off camera he is apparently a gracious, giving and friendly character. He has beaten some very good fighters like Daniel Geale, Antwun Echols and Danny Green in his career and given oxygen to the sweet science.
He also had a very good rugby league career – not as good as he says, but still better than probably 90% of other first graders. You don’t score 59 tries in 129 games, and play State of Origin and in three grand finals, if you are not very, very good. To do well in two professional sports is extremely rare (Sonny Bill Williams, Jeff Wilson, Duke Kahanamoku, Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders) but it is a stretch to say he has dominated both codes.
But while Mundine might have once threatened to reach the top in boxing – and also in the NRL if he stayed in the competition – he hasn’t be able to quite get there. He has left his run in the US too late, and even told Fox Sports News yesterday that he’s not sure why it hasn’t happened yet.
Sure he has commanded massive paydays and won titles but he also has lost to world champions like Sven Ottke, Manny Siaca, Mikkel Kessler and a novice like Garth Wood. The greatest of the greats of boxing – such as Ali, Mayweather and the Sugar Rays – would never have lost to someone like Wood.
Mundine also never fought some of the best of the world in his division at the time such as Joe Calzaghe, Oscar De La Hoya, Felix Sturm, Carl Forch or Sergio Martínez. To be the best, you have to beat the best.
Now, it’s the way of modern boxing and sport in general these days to label people as either fans or ‘haters’. You either love an athlete or if you criticise them you are just a ‘hater’. Mundine surely has his share of both, as a casual glance of Twitter or online sites will show.
Mundine’s supporters may now say that I’m just a hater, but that’s actually far from the truth. It would be great to see him succeed on Sunday and get his dream shot, like all Aussie boxers. I’ll be watching.
Just to get a bout against Alvarez would be a huge coup, let alone Mayweather. But while its important to have goals, Mayweather is a pipe-dream. This would be like the Brisbane Roar versus Manchester City. Reality has to be considered.
Mundine may be slowing down and getting older but he still has a lot to offer. A rematch with his 2009 vanquished opponent and now IBF middleweight world champion, Daniel Geale, would be fantastic.
A quality all-Australian fight. Even a rematch against his 2006 foe Danny Green has its appeal. Both fighters are nearing the end but the rivalry remains strong and their shared history makes for a lucrative bout. Instead both Mundine and Green fight washed-up opponents and the fights that real pugilism proponents want to see go begging.
Whether Mundine retires this year, next year or in five years, it would be good to see him hang up the gloves with his faculties in tact and with some credibility left. He has blazed a trail in Australian sport and done it his own unique way, which has to be admired.