Does Anthony Mundine mean business?

19.04.05 - By Andrew Teece: With Anthony Mundineís May 11th title fight against Denmarkís Mikkel Kessler fast approaching, one has to wonder about Mundineís focus when all the press in Australia surrounding Mundine at the moment relates to his potential return to Australiaís National Rugby League competition. Mundine has been talking at length about this possible return to the NRL, then turns around in the next breath saying that he is only focused on the Kessler fight. Mundine has been known to play mind games in the past, and it remains to be seen whether Mundine is trying to arouse interest in the fight or whether he is preparing himself for defeat, which would basically lead to the end of his boxing career.

Mundine is clearly one of the elite athletes to come out of Australia, but his frequent outconfusing statements leave the Australian public questioning Mundineís ability to dedicate himself wholly and completely to the matter at hand.. He is going to need all his wits about him to be competitive against Kessler, and an unfocused, casual approach could lead to serious damage. I believe Mundine realizes that this will be a difficult fight, an important fight in his boxing career, where a win will silence his many critics, while a loss will leave him in boxing no manís land.

Kesslerís hard punching aggressive style will require all Mundineís boxing ability to defend against, but in saying that, Mundine will need to get inside to attack, he will not just be able to box from the outside. Mundine is going to have to trade blows with probably the best puncher he has encountered in the ring. For Mundine to win, he will need to pull out the fight of his life and be at the absolute top of his game.

Amongst others, Mundine has been sparring with Australian light-heavyweight Paul Briggs, who believes Mundine is stronger and more willing to get down and dirty than ever before. These sparring sessions were noted by many as being quite brutal, a necessary part of Mundineís preparation.

With Mundineís boxing career at a crossroads, it is my belief that Mundine is making statements about Rugby League in order to hedge his bets should he suffer defeat to Kessler. If Mundine is to win, and I believe he can, I think he will stay in boxing and turn his back on Rugby League again. Should he lose, he would recognize that it will take a significant amount of time to secure another title fight, and a return to Rugby League would look quite attractive.

In other Australian boxing news, Kostya Tszyu, has completed his (in)famous two week stint at the Australian Institute of Sport, which is an intensive, physically draining, fitness and strength regime which he completes prior to every fight before he starts his sparring work. He is back in Sydney and last week held an open-air sparring session with Sam Solomon. By all accounts (including Sam Solomonís) Kostya is in fantastic shape and starting to look sharp.

The fight, to take place in the MEN Arena in Manchester against Ricky Hatton on 5 June, is one of the most eagerly anticipated upcoming fights - the old guard vs the new guard. It should be an exciting fight, both fighters being aggressive body-punching pugilists, both with the ability to knock opponents out. My tip is that Tszyu will win by knockout in a tightly contested battle, in the latter rounds of the fight. This fight, however, could prove to be the making of Ricky Hatton, win or lose, should the situation be handled well by his management. Hatton is a fighter of the future and along with Mayweather Jr and Judah, he will rule these weight divisions for years to come.

Paul Briggs is fighting Tomasz Adamek on May 21st for the vacant WBC Light-Heavyweight title at The United Center, Chicago. Briggs is back in business after some time in no manís land. He seems to have matured and looks to be fighting because he wants to. The hunger has returned. Along with sparring with Mundine, Briggs has been sparring with some Muay Thai fighters because of their tenacity and endurance. He is preparing for a long and rugged fight with the talented and skillful Adamek. Briggs will need to use all his ringmanship and will have to dig deep to come out victorious. Judging by his preparation, he is ready to live up to the previously unfulfilled potential.

Article posted on 19.04.2005

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