AGE is nothing but a number to Anthony Mundine.
The 42-year-old who faces fellow Sydney-sider Tommy Browne in his 56th professional fight on January 17th at The Star in Sydney isn’t concerned with critics who say his best days are behind him.
Instead, Mundine, a man who is one of Australia’s greatest ever athletes as well as one of our most polarising, is adamant that he is smart enough to manipulate the ravages of time.
“People talk about age and this and that, it’s not about your age,” said Mundine to Aus-Boxing. “As you get older you just train smarter. I haven’t lost anything in the gym. You ask the young boys I’ve been sparring against. I feel good man and I just want to win and win well.”
It’s a stormy Tuesday afternoon in Sydney, and Mundine, fresh off a training session, is in a reflective mood.
For a man who’s made a career out of talking himself up, I find a more softly spoken Mundine on the end of the phone line. When I ask him why we haven’t seen as much of the usual bravado-driven narrative in the lead up to this fight, he says something I wasn’t expecting to hear.
“Man, I’ve just mellowed out over the last five years or so,” he says. “I don’t need to prove anything, my record speaks for itself and I don’t need to prove anything to anybody.”
Tommy Browne may not be as recognisable a name as some of Mundine’s past opponents but it’s clear that with three losses in his last four fights that ‘Choc’ still has much to prove, at least if he wants to continue fighting. He needs to win this one.
And despite the ramifications that a loss to Browne would mean for Mundine, he’s nonchalant when asked how he can beat the former world title challenger.
“He’s a good fighter Tommy Browne. He’s pretty handy with his fight game but I just feel I’m better and I’ll prove it on the 17th,” he says.
I bring up some of his more recent comments about big name fighters and it doesn’t take long for the Mundine of old to reappear.
“I really feel I’m the Bernard Hopkins of this country,” Mundine says. “I’ve built my brand over the last 17 years and fought some great fighters and won titles. I just want to go out fighting the best. Doesn’t matter if its Billie Joe Saunders, Alvarez or even Golovkin, I just want to go out fighting the best.”
The truth is often somewhere in between when it comes to Anthony Mundine.
He’s enigmatic. It’s obvious that a lot of what he does comes in the form of self-promotion. After all, he’s made a very nice living out of incensing the masses but one feels that perhaps he just might be chasing that one big last fight. Regardless of whom he may or may not want to fight, he’s made it clear that 2018 will be his final year in the sport of boxing.
“This is my last year in boxing but as you know if you keep winning you get bigger pay days and better fights but I do want this to be my last year and I want to go out with a bang,” he says.
Before he can ‘go out with a bang’ as he puts it, Mundine must put up an impressive showing against Tommy Browne on January 17th. His future undoubtedly hinges on such a result.
Words: Dan Attias/Follow Dan on Twitter