Friday night always looked like being a complete mismatch and that prophecy was fulfilled. But then again, Jeff Horn was already looking past Anthony Mundine even before he’d stepped in the ring.
From the outset it seemed a bizarre choice for a man who wants to chase more world titles to fight a 43-year-old at the end of his career.
Mundine has been a heck of a fighter for 18 years but beating a man 13 years your senior and well past his prime is hardly the best way to get noticed.
Sure, in Australia, the fight was big news. But at Thursday’s weigh in Horn said he wants to fight in America. That’s where the big stage — and more importantly, the big money — is.
Team Horn denied Friday’s fight was purely a cash grab, saying Mundine was a worthy opponent and it was a chance for Horn to prove he can go up a couple of weight divisions from welterweight, where he won the belt by defeating Manny Pacquiao before surrendering it to Terence Crawford earlier this year.
Horn reportedly stands to make more than $2 million from the River City Rumble so financially it was a smart move. He’s made no secret of the fact he doesn’t plan to stay in boxing long term so wants to make as much money as possible to set his family up for the future.
He ticked that box, but to most boxing pundits, a win over an ageing Mundine will struggle to make ripples on the global scene or come with any benefits other than a fatter bank balance. The fight was broadcast live in the US — albeit at breakfast time on the east coast and even earlier on the west coast — and iconic boxing promoter Bob Arum sent a text message to Horn’s promoter Dean Lonergan after the first round knockout to pass on his congratulations.
“As you know Bob’s one of the biggest promoters in the world and he’s got a longtime deal with ESPN,” Lonergan told reporters.
“Bob texted me and said to pass on his congratulations to (trainer) Glenn (Rushton) and Jeff, it’s a massive effort so I’ll be talking to Bob in the very near future.”
Arum is used to wheeling and dealing in the promotional game and knows better than most how to make a buck, but does the rest of America care about the bullied boy from Queensland?
Many boxing analysts Stateside already questioned the legitimacy of the judges’ scorecards in Horn’s win over Pacquiao and felt vindicated when Crawford completely outclassed him in Las Vegas. Yes, a win over Mundine may have changed their perspective but in reality it was probably too obscure to even register with them.
A scan through American sports pages and boxing websites on Friday night revealed relatively minimal coverage of Horn-Mundine and what coverage there was short, sharp and generally limited to describing the in-ring action. That may well be because of the time difference or perhaps the Yanks are more interested in Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder later this weekend.
A piece by Scott Christ of SB Nation and Bad Left Hook summed things up when he said: “There was no competition today in Brisbane.”
Perhaps the most telling insights came from the associate editor of Ring Magazine Tom Gray, who wrote: “Horn may not be elite, but he’s still a handful.”
Hardly a ringing endorsement, but it was Gray’s characterisation of Mundine that really gave Horn a grim reality check about his latest achievement.
“Mundine is 43 years old and he has now lost five of his last nine fights. If you’re looking through his resume for a significant win at top level, then you would be going back several years,” Gray said.
“Mundine, who once held a WBA ‘regular’ middleweight belt, was once able to compete against solid opposition, but he has overstayed his welcome.”
High profile American boxing commentators, including ESPN’s Dan Rafael, Yahoo’s Kevin Iole and the Los Angeles Times’ Lance Pugmire haven’t even bothered tweeting or writing about the result.
The Washington Post carried a story of Horn’s stoppage victory, but were far from impressed by the spectacle.
Boxing Insider was also scathing of Mundine’s boxing star-power and labelled the contest a
step down in class for Horn after his recent fights against future hall of famers in Crawford and Pacquiao.
It was sobering reading for Horn after a night of knockout celebrations.
If that’s a view of Mundine being shared Stateside, can you really expect Americans to get excited by Horn? Not on the evidence of this fight alone, it would seem.
Horn’s trainer Glenn Rushton said after the fight he’s chasing big names like Canelo Alvarez and a rematch with Crawford, and is desperate to lure these megastars Down Under. But he’s not sure how much those in the States will appreciate his pupil’s latest demolition job.
“I hope it’s received very well, you never know,” Rushton said. “You never know how they’ll react.
“We’ll have to wait and let the dust settle and see what they say but I hope it (Horn’s win) went over well. The time zone wasn’t ideal for America but it will be interesting to see the fallout over the coming days.”
Horn and Co. will be hoping for the phone to ring hot from overseas but if it doesn’t they can’t be cursing their luck. A match-up with a 43-year-old Mundine — no matter what they said publicly — was always unlikely to generate mass interest outside Australia because Choc is not The Man he once was.
It may well be that Horn is richer but no closer to a title shot or a fight with a big drawcard because Mundine simply isn’t a big enough scalp to get people in the northern hemisphere talking. If that’s the case Horn will have no reason to complain as he sits back and plays the waiting game.