Jairzinho Rozenstruik wasn’t messing around at UFC Greenville.
With the long-awaited retirement of Anthony Mundine, Aussie boxing has to ask the question: can it survive without it most polarising figure?
Mundine was instrumental in bringing the sport back from the dead, with all but one of his fights on Main Event pay-per-view and all but two on Australian turf. Mundine was a three-time world champion, bringing all but one of his world title fights to Australian shores, and he was responsible for taking the sport to heights never before seen, surpassing even the Jeff Fenech era.
Mundine’s career brought to Australia some of the biggest events the sport has ever seen. His first fight with long-time rival Danny Green broke attendance records and set the record for most pay-per-view buys of any Australian fight. His three fights with Sam Solomon brought two world title fights to both Melbourne and Sydney, and his two epic battles with Danny Geale gave us one of the best all-Aussie world title fights, with their duels in Brisbane in 2009.
Mundine made an effort to have a fight in every state, drawing a full house wherever he fought, and he brought millions in revenue to the sport and the cities he fought in. But now the question has to be asked: can boxing in Australia survive the post-Mundine era?
Of course there are plenty of good boxers out there who have already become champions or are well on their way, but who will be the poster boy for the sport and continue to bring the big fights home?
Jeff Horn is obviously the number-one choice after he defeated Mundine a couple of weeks ago. As a former world champion and being ranked in the top five for middleweights, his next fight will be a huge move. But he doesn’t have the flamboyance of Mundine and has only had big fights in Qld.
The Moloney twins, Jason and Andrew, are well on their way to world-championship status. Jason already has already had a title shot and came with a whisker of claiming the IBF bantamweight title earlier in the year. Andrew is ranked in the top ten in the super-flyweight division, and with an undefeated record, he won’t be too far off a world title shot.
Former IBO champions Zac Dunn (super-middleweight) and Blake Caprello (light-heavyweight) have fights lined up for next year to continue the climb back to world-champion status. They might even cross paths one day.
Bilal Akkawy is another undefeated prospect who is a sparring partner for multi-time and division champion Saul Alvarez. He could use this to his advantage to gain a world title shot. But he fights in the States and not in Australia, and being the champion is not enough.
Australia needs another polarising figure who has the ability and the ego to do what it takes to draw the crowds in and bring the best competitors onto Australian soil, giving the Aussie public a chance to witness big fights in person.
Mundine was a great example of how to be a fantastic draw for the sport. Can he be replaced? Danny Green used the good-guy status to get things done, and another Green would be welcome.
Can boxing survive the post-Mundine era?