- Geale proves too sharp for Mundine
- Shattered Mundine won't quit
- As it happened: relive the live coverage
- Big Kimbo makes hay in dockyard brawl
You don’t have to like Anthony Mundine. As if you didn’t know. Not before he lost to Daniel Geale. And certainly not after.
Mundine has always invited our ridicule. Dared us not to be disgusted by his ill-chosen words and his preposterous preening. The hokey faux-Ali impersonation. The political statements that can make Pauline Hanson seem as thoughtful and articulate as Ben Chifley.
Yet, even as he choked on bitter defeat, in some ways you could not help but admire Mundine. Not as a good loser. The judges gave it to Daniel Geale. Clearly, if not comprehensively. The experts agreed. Yet, boxing being boxing, and Mundine being Mundine, there were whines of discontent.
‘‘They robbed me,’’ claimed Mundine. ‘‘You all seen it. A fighter knows when he’s in control. A fighter knows when he’s dictating the fight and winning the fight. I saw in his eyes he knew he lost. That just hurts, man. That blatancy, it hurts for me.’’
Tweeted Sonny Bill Williams: ‘‘Hanging out with @Anthony_Mundine celebrating a victory. We don’t pay attention to corrupt judges!!’’
Resonant not – for a rare time in boxing – of a corrupt decision. Rather, of a kind of cultural corruption. The win-when-I-lose mentality that has engulfed professional sport. Only Williams’s belated apology spared him greater humiliation.
Yet, despite the predictably tawdry aftermath, you have to admire Mundine as a fighter and a showman. It was a night when Australia embraced and celebrated Geale. An exciting and gracious champion. But one that would not have been possible, on home soil, without Mundine.
The pre-fight hype had infuriated and disgusted, as it always does. The storm-in-a-teacup wailing about Mundine trashing a national anthem that most barely mumble, and a flag that has become a fashion accessory for bigots and bogans. The rehashed story of Mundine’s supposed banishment from rugby league.
All part of the Mundine pre-fight storyline rotation policy.
Far more pertinent was Mundine’s divisive comments about Geale’s indigenous heritage. A line not even Mundine should have dared cross.
But if the build-up was tumultuous and abrasive, Mundine’s methods have been – as last night’s extravaganza proved – life support for the eternally beleaguered boxing scene. Some aficionados argue Mundine’s strictly pay-per-view appearances have lined only his pockets. Yet, without them, the biggest Australian fights would be in the leagues clubs and scout halls. Only Mundine has elevated a sport besieged by the animalistic appeal of the loathsome mixed martial arts bloodfests.
Only Mundine could set a stage like Wednesday night’s. A packed-out venue filled with politicians, footballers, TV celebrities and underworld figures. The chintzy trimmings that give big-time boxing its strangely alluring mixture of showbusiness glamour and seedy underbelly.
In defeat, Mundine also proved again he is a polished fighter, not merely an unrivalled promoter. It was defeat with honour – at least until he opened his mouth. Outpointed but not outgunned.
A demonstration of why Mundine deserves his place among the second echelon of Australian fighters. No Rose or Famechon or Darcy or Fenech or Carruthers. But one of the accomplished tradesmen worthy of enduring respect. For his deeds, if not always his words. Mostly, however, Mundine deserves praise for allowing us to exalt his conqueror. Without Mundine, Geale would most likely have played another away game. Mundine’s promotional and boxing skill meant we got to see him first-hand.
There is talk of a rematch. I hope that is not the case. Mundine has elevated Geale’s reputation here. At 31, if he is to rise to the highest realm, Geale must continue following a path Mundine failed to follow. To find his place among the global superstars. Geale’s previous victories overseas, and the way he endured the hype surrounding the Mundine fight, suggest the sanguine Tasmanian has an iron will and a unflappable nature inside the ropes.
Meanwhile, Sonny Bill Williams will fight Francois Botha in Brisbane. A bout that comes with the guarantee of real corruption. Not in the result, but of the sport’s sullied reputation.