By Anthony Cocks
Former WBA super middleweight champion Anthony ‘The Man’ Mundine 48-8 (28) says he will hang up the gloves after he defeats former WBO welterweight champion Jeff ‘The Fighting Schoolteacher’ Horn 18-1-1 (12) in their 71kg (156.5-pound) catchweight bout at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on November 30.
“I’m super confident that I can beat Jeff Horn and I believe that I can even stop him inside the distance,’’ said Mundine in an interview with the Courier Mail this week.
“What better way to leave boxing than to beat the guy who beat Manny Pacquiao before 50,000 people in a huge football stadium?”
Both Mundine and Horn have strong connections to stadium formerly known as Lang Park.
As a superlative five-eighth for rugby league powerhouse clubs the St George Dragons and the Brisbane Broncos, Mundine managed just two game on the hallowed turf of Lang Park during his storied playing career. Coming off the bench for the New South Wales Blues team in the 1999 State of Origin series, Mundine was part of the team that drew the three game series with their hated Queensland counterparts. The loss and the draw came at Lang Park.
For Horn, the memories are much fonder and more immediate. It was here that the Brisbane schoolteacher scored his breakthrough win against Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao in July last year in front of more than 51,000 parochial fans. With the victory came the WBO welterweight title and global recognition.
After 18 years in the sport Mundine has an exit strategy for the fight game, even if it’s said that boxers with one eye on retirement are doomed to fail through a lack of focus.
Puerto Rican boxing icon Miguel Cotto learnt this the hard way when his retirement fight against little-known Sadam Ali was scored for the Brooklyn junior middleweight by unanimous decision when the pair clashed at Madison Square Garden last December.
“I’ve had a great career, shocked a lot of people and won world titles when no one thought it was possible,’’ Mundine reflected. “I earned $30 million from the sport and with no amateur background became a world champion and beat a lot of big name fighters along the way.
“I want to beat Horn so I can leave the sport on a huge high.’’
At the press conference to formally announce the fight this week Horn joked about the lack of respect he has been afforded by the Mundine camp.
"I’m 30 years old and still getting called ’the boy’ up there on the lectern. Maybe when I beat him he’ll call me ’The Man’," laughed Horn.
Mundine has been on a barnstorming tour of Australia’s east coast as he seeks out suitable sparring to get him ready for Horn’s buzzsaw attack. The 43-year-old Sydney veteran travelled south to Melbourne last week to train at Sam Labruna’s Keilor East gym and this week was seen putting in rounds in at the Logan Boxing Club in the gruelling Brisbane heat.
The Horn versus Mundine bout is expected to draw a live crowd of 25,000 people. Mundine says he wants to put on a show for the Australian people.
“I want to win big on the biggest night ever in Australian boxing,” said Mundine. “I’m not going to belittle Jeff but there’s nothing he can do in any area that can top what I can do. I have it all over him in speed and experience. At 71kg I might not have the power that I had in the heavier weight divisions but I will still have the punch to hurt him.
“If he’s hoping my age will be a factor then he’s in for a shock.
“Jeff is a good fighter but he’s very unorthodox and his feet are all over the place. Sometimes it looks like he’s fighting on crack because his feet are everywhere. That doesn’t mean he isn’t effective because even Muhammad Ali did a lot of unorthodox things and they worked for him.
“But I know exactly what Horn’s got and I have the answer to everything he does.’’