ANTHONY MUNDINE says his best fights have been when he is the underdog and predicts a win over IBF middleweight world champion Daniel Geale will put him a step closer to his dream bout against Floyd Mayweather.
With bookmakers and critics predicting a Geale win, Mundine insists he is ready to prove them wrong and will then pursue big-name opponents to cement his legacy.
Bad blood boils at Mundine weigh-in
Anthony Mundine causes more controversy at his weigh-in ahead of his fight with Daniel Geale.
''I have always thrived under pressure when I played league and in boxing,'' Mundine told Fairfax Media on the eve of Wednesday night's bout at Sydney Entertainment Centre.
''My best fights have been when I am against the odds and I am against the odds again so I am going to come out swinging.''
Mundine, who hit the scales at 71.95kg in Tuesday's weigh-in and then engaged in some last-minute mind games with Geale, refuses to consider the possibility of a loss ending his 13-year boxing career.
Mundine says the fight, which will be replayed in the US, will be the beginning of a new phase in his career if he can win a fourth world title - one of which includes the IBO middleweight belt he took from Geale in 2009.
''There is a lot of interest around the boxing world because this guy is really a unified champion and I am the only man who beat him, and I am going to do it again,'' Mundine said of Geale's wins over Germany's IBF world champion Sebastian Sylvester and WBA title holder Felix Sturm.
''This will put me up there with the best pound for pounders and catapult me to the fights I want to get. I want to fight the best - I don't care if they are middleweight, junior middleweight or what weight division.
''I want to fight the best of all time and that is Mayweather, but this fight is going to get me in the position to fight an Austin Trout, a Miguel Cotto, a Sergio Martinez or whoever comes up and is the best deal for us. But I have got to get past this test first and he is a champion so I am going to have to go and take it from him.''
As the pair came face to face for the last time before stepping into the ring at the weigh-in, where Geale proved slightly heavier at 72.5 kg, Mundine did his best to get under his rival's skin by blowing bubblegum in his face.
Geale said he was used to Mundine's antics and was determined not to let the 37-year-old get under his skin.
''There has been a couple of times I started to get angry but I take it all in my stride,'' Geale said. ''He wants me to get upset and I understand that.''
After losing their previous bout, Geale said he was motivated by revenge. ''A statement needs to be made, all the talk has been done and I am just excited by this,'' he said. ''I have put a lot into this and I can't wait.
''He is definitely in great shape but we were expecting that. I said from the beginning that he would step up for this fight and he has to. It is going to make for a better fight.''
IBF featherweight champion Billy Dib, who will defend his title against Cuban Luis Franco in Connecticut on March 1, compared the build-up to the Mundine-Geale bout to Mundine's fight against Danny Green at Allianz Stadium in 2006.
''I think Australian boxing is the winner because regardless if who wins the belts stays in Australia,'' he said.
Dib said he had been leaning towards Geale on form but Mundine would step up for the bout.
''He knows that this is it - he either wins now or he is done.
''Honestly, can you ever write Anthony Mundine off? They said Danny Green would knock him out but he rises to these occasions, so I think it is a 50-50 fight.''
FIVE THINGS WORTH FIGHTING FOR
His career: At 37 years of age, a loss to Geale would all but end Mundine’s 48-fight career — at least on the world stage.
His legacy: Should Mundine win, it will put him back on course for a tilt at some of boxing’s biggest names, headed by Floyd Mayweather.
To silence the critics: Mundine knows that there are those who would like nothing better than to see his career end, and he is determined not to give them the satisfaction.
A fourth world title: After taking Geale’s IBO middleweight world title in 2009, Mundine now wants to snatch the IBF version from him to add to the two WBA super middleweight belts he won against Antwun Echols in 2003 and Sam Soliman in 2007.
Respect: After being criticised for taking easy fights in recent years, Mundine believes a win over Geale will force people to acknowledge him as one of Australia’s greatest sportsmen ever, given what he achieved he in rugby league before taking up boxing.
Revenge: The only loss in Geale’s 29-fight career was to Mundine in 2009, so he wants to avenge that defeat.
Recognition: Despite beating Germany’s IBF middleweight world champion Sebastian Sylvester and WBA title holder Felix Sturm on their home turf, Geale was largely unknown to most Australians until the fight with Mundine was announced.
To silence Mundine: After repeatedly being on the end of Mundine’s trash- taking antics at press conferences and events to promote the fight, Geale would like little more than to be the man who ended The Man’s career.
Reputation: Should Geale lose, he will risk becoming another name on the long list of Australian boxers to have been given an opportunity by Mundine and failed.
Big fights: As the IBF middleweight world champion, Geale will again look to unify the belt against either WBA and IBO title holder Genady Golovkin or the division’s top-ranked boxer and WBC No.1 Sergio Martinez.