17/04/2024

Michael Zerafa was ruthless in his first round KO of Anthony Mundine in Bendigo - Picture: @ringnews24 on Twitter

Anthony Mundine officially retired after a first round knockout at the hands of Michael Zerafa on Saturday night.

In a one-sided bout, Michael “Pretty Boy” Zerafa captured the WBA Oceania Middleweight title with an emphatic first round knock-out that ended the career of Australian boxing trailblazer, Anthony “The Man” Mundine.

After putting Mundine down for a count that he would barely beat in the first 90 seconds of the bout at Bendigo on Saturday night, Zerafa smelled blood in the water and attacked accordingly.

A powerful combination of body and head punches, capped off by a devastating straight right hand led to a second knockdown from which Mundine would not get up from. The referee had no choice but to end the fight at 2:09 of round one.

At that moment, even the man himself knew it was time for Anthony Mundine to retire from the professional boxing ring.

It was a sad way for Mundine’s career to officially come to a close, but the former World champion fully acknowledged the need to walk away from the sport for good.

“Definitely, that’s it for me – win, lose or draw. Even if I won I still would have hung them up. I just haven’t got the heart anymore to do it”, he said in the post-fight interview.

“I’m not the fighter I was a year ago, five years ago or ten years ago, but I’ve achieved a lot in my lifetime.”

The brashness, controversy and cheekiness that typified the career of Mundine was able to rear its head one last time, however. Even if it was on a minute level.

“He wanted to fight me when he was 15. Lucky he got me when I was 45, not 35.”

Overwhelming opinions regarding the fight suggested that there was a wide disparity between Zerafa and Mundine, some even questioning whether the bout should have been scheduled. These takes were justified by the result.

This should not cast doubt over the contributions to boxing that Anthony Mundine has made to boxing and the Australian sports landscape.

Before switching to the ring where his father Tony made a name for himself during the 1970s, Anthony was a Rugby League standout, representing New South Wales in 1999.

In the decades that followed, he would become a boxing superstar, capturing the WBA World Super Middleweight title twice and feature in high-profile bouts against the likes of Sam Soliman, Mikel Kessler, Shane Mosely, Daniel Geale and Danny Green.

Moreover, the performance of Michael Zerafa should not be overshadowed by takes regarding the validity of the fight. In a bout in which he was heavily favoured to win, the 28 year old Victorian fulfilled all expectations placed on him.

Further boxes were ticked in the post-fight, where a deep sense of humility was expressed before a massive callout was made.

“I just want to give a huge thanks to the Mundine team for the opportunity”, Zerafa said.

“This is a legacy fight for me.

“Anthony, nothing but love and respect, brother. You’re the one that put this sport on the map.

“Now it’s time Tim Tszyu – Excuse my French, but stop f***ing running. It’s time to fight.”

After crashing the victory celebrations of Tszyu’s first round stoppage of Bowyn Morgan in December last year, the call-out was the next logical step along the road to what could maturate into the next All-Australian Super Fight.

Should Tszyu be successful in his fight on 31 March against Dennis Hogan, all eyes will turn to a potential show down with Zerafa, seen by many as a logical fight to make.

The point of deliberation, of course, will be which weight class the fight should take place in. Should Tszyu move up to the Middleweight division or should Zerafa return to the Super Welterweight class in which Tszyu reigns supreme?

Time will only tell.

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