Anthony Mundine turns back the clock, upsets Sergey Rabchenko

IN a near fifteen-year professional career, Anthony Mundine had held a version of the world championship three times in two divisions and had beaten a level of competition that was overall far superior to that of unbeaten Belarusian Sergey Rabchenko.

In spite of this, there were many who were not only expecting Mundine to lose by spectacular knockout, but also heightened concerns for his safety when he signed to challenge the WBC Silver light middleweight champion at Melbourne’s Hisense Arena on November 12th.

The boxing media and public alike said that Anthony Mundine had no business being in the ring with Sergey Rabchenko, a noted puncher, and that coming off a five-knockdown loss to Joshua Clottey in April, he could potentially get hurt.

They said that Mundine was shot and had little to offer.

But with the spotlight at its brightest and with his career on the line, Mundine (now 47-6, 27 KOs) showed yet again why it is a bad idea to underestimate the two-code sportsman, putting on a vintage performance in what was a hard-fought but well-deserved split points decision over the favoured Rabchenko (now 25-1, 18 KOs).

“At this part of my career it was do or die, I needed to put in a big performance,” Mundine said in an exclusive post-fight interview with Aus-Boxing. “Rabchenko is a young lion, the man can punch. He is probably the best body puncher I’ve ever faced, I had to be careful.”

After twelve closely fought rounds, iconic boxing figure Jimmy Lennon Jr announced Mundine as the winner by 116-112 and 115-113 margins, with the third judge favouring Rabchenko by a 115-113 score.

Mundine, 39, had to survive several shaky moments, most notably two phases in both the seventh and tenth rounds, where Rabchenko, 28, swarmed on the local favourite. But to his credit, he showed his experience, hanging on to stun the defending champion in both rounds.

“He got me with one good shot to the face – and he staggered me a bit – but I recovered very well. I showed that I’ve got a great chin. I think I outboxed him. I thought I won it by three, four rounds outboxing him in certain rounds. He had some great rounds but overall I thought I got the victory,”

“He hurt me to the body a couple of times. But he didn’t hurt me enough to put me down,” Mundine added. “I had the will. I refused to lose tonight, I refused to go down and I refused to give in,”

“He hit me with some stellar shots, not to the head but to the body. Anybody else probably would’ve went down and stayed down, but I had that tenacity and belief that if I used my jab more, used my feet and angles I’d come out with the victory.”

“I proved everyone wrong again; it’s not about the age. It’s about the mind, it’s about my seasoning. It’s about my experience.”

With superior aggression and at times devastating body punching, Rabchenko made it clear early that if he landed flush on Mundine – it would be lights out – but Mundine listened to the excellent advice from his corner and at times hung tough.

He appeared to win most of the early rounds, but it wasn’t until the seventh, when he was stunned by a body shot, that the fight became a battle of wills.

With the win now secured and the WBC Silver belt wrapped tightly to Mundine’s waist, the enigmatic Indigenous felt the need to not only point out how important the win was for his career, but to highlight how much of an underdog he was going into the fight.

“You can have a young bull like that and unleash him on an old veteran like me, but look what sort of fight you got, I was a 5-1 underdog,” Mundine explained. “They thought he was going to kill me. They said I would last four to five rounds, but I proved once again I am “The Man”, I am the best athlete that Australia has ever produced.”

“I believe I’m the best athlete the world has produced, what I’ve done in two sports. You are all going to be shocked when you look at my football highlights and what I did in that. I was the best when I left and now to become silver champion and champion again, this is my fourth belt. I’m the first man to win it descending in weight, that is another thing you all forget.”

“I just don’t think I get the credit I deserve from the public and the media feeding the public,” Mundine quipped. “I don’t need to prove anything more. If I retired today I’m the best athlete ever, the best that ever lived in this country and I don’t get that credit.”

Unlike previous Mundine cards, where the pay-per-view audience were at times left with little value for money, Wednesday nights event – promoted by Brian Amatruda’s Big Time Boxing – was stacked from top to bottom. This meant that the venue filled early and by the time the main event rolled around, the atmosphere was electric.

Mundine was full of praise for Amatruda and the event sponsor Mick Gatto, who made the investment in Mundine when few expected he would fight on.

“When no one believed in me Mick (Gatto) and Brian (Amatuda) gave me the opportunity to fight Rabchenko, who is undoubtedly a young lion and a big prospect. That’s why Ricky Hatton put so much time and effort into him. And to do what I’ve done tonight, I’m speechless myself. I can’t even believe it.”

“I beat the number two in the world, the silver champ. I beat him so why shouldn’t I go into the number two spot? That’s how it works doesn’t it? I’ve only lost three fights in only nine years.”

The goal for Mundine has always been a dream fight with pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather and even though Mundine is now the American’s mandatory, he understands a fight against Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez appears to be a more realistic and achievable option.

“I’ve always said I want Mayweather,” Mundine said. “I think it would be a great fight a good match up. Because, just stylistically he is a great fighter man – Floyd is Floyd – he is the best ever. Everyone wants to fight Floyd. Everyone wants to get into the Mayweather sweepstakes. To make that five, you know, ten million.”

“But the next step I think, a great fight would be with Alvarez. I think that is a great stylistic fight and match up I think that’s a mega fight for the country. I think that’s something that would stop the nation and I would like that fight.”

“I’m not finished, I’m not finished. I’m someone who is very dedicated and determined to get what I want. I’m very stubborn.”

“Mayweather has always been my goal; everyone wants to be in the Mayweather sweepstakes like I said. Floyd will fight whom Floyd wants to fight. That’s up to Floyd,” Mundine said in closing. “God willing he chooses to fight “The Man” and he fights me. But on the way I’d like to think I’ve earned my shot too. If I cant get Floyd, then we go for Alvarez.”

“I want to thank Melbourne, because Melbourne is the heart of Australian sport. I’ve fought four times down here now and it’s the best city to fight or have any sport. So I want to thank the people of Melbourne for embracing me. I might even move down here.”

Photo: Louie Abigail/Photography by Rockfingrz



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