The mystery of the Mundine chin

26.08.05 - By Gavin Stone: Does Anthony Mundine have a jaw of steel, or is it fine china? This is a topic that is hotly discussed in boxing forums, clubs and other sections of both the media and public. Most people’s initial thought are that YES, Anthony Mundine does have a glass jaw, which is a term that is referred to when boxers don’t take a punch very well.. However if the topic is looked into a little deeper, past initial thoughts, it’s very hard to come to a conclusion on Anthony Mundine’s ability to take a punch.

On December 1, 2001 Anthony Mundine was knocked out cold in Westfalenhalle, Dortmund, Germany. It was Round 10 against the IBF super-middlweight world champion Sven Ottke, and up until that stage Mundine was arguably winning the fight, Mundine was exhausted, but a temple shot from the light hitting German was enough to put ‘The Man’ down.

This was Mundine’s 11th professional fight after having only made his debut 17 months earlier. Mundine lacked both the ring fitness and experience to adjust to the adversity that he faced in Germany. Given Sven Ottke’s knock out record with only 4 KO’s on his resume leading into that fight, this result was not a good one to support the strength of Mundine’s chin, and it seemed to be one of fine china.

Mundine critic Jeff Fenech labeled him as “sleeping beauty”, and made the statement “float like a butterfly, sleep like a log”. After the Ottke fight the general consensus was that Mundine would fall after the first solid punch that touched the whiskers.

8 fights and almost 2 years later Anthony Mundine faced American Antwun Echols for the vacant WBA super-middleweight world title at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. Echols was regarded as one of, if not the hardest punching boxer pound for pound in world boxing. Boxing great Bernard Hopkins is on record as saying that after his 2 fights with Echols he thought and felt that ‘Kid Dynamite’ was the hardest puncher that he had fought in is career, a significant statement given the fighters on Hopkins record. With this in mind and added to Mundine’ knock out loss to Ottke, people from Marrickville to Manhattan tipped a brutal KO loss for Mundine. After the fight was then postponed by 4 weeks after an apparent illness, Mundine was labled as being scared of being knocked out by Echols.

After all the talk and a massive build up on fight night, and the anticipation of ‘The Man’ being knocked out early, Mundine went onto shock the world. It was 12 rounds of boxing brilliance where Mundine showed not only slick offensive skills and supurb shoulder roll defense, he also showed in this fight a jaw of steel, especially given the reputation Echols fists brought to the ring.

It now seemed that Mundine’s chin was much better than people though, if not his defence skills and stamina.

After winning the world title against Echols, Mundine made his first defense against WBA No15 and WBC No7 Yoshinori Nishizawa of Japan. While Mundine looked brilliant in this fight, he went down in round 2 to a punch from Nishizawa, one of the only punches that Nishizawa actually landed against Mundine. Whether this was a flash knock down or not, it was hardly the performance of a fighter with a jaw of steel. It must be noted that Nishizawa also sent German WBC world champion Markus Beyer to the canvas in round 2 in their contest in December 2004.

Mundine’s next title defence was against the big Puerto Rican and WBA No1 contender Manny Siaca, a fighter who bought a reputation as a heavy handed fighter to the ring. In what was Mundine’s worst career performance he gave the glass jaw theory critics more data to work with after going down in round 2 from a right uppercut- short left hook combination from Siaca. Mundine was clearly hurt and lucky to be saved by the bell. Mundine went onto lose his title in this fight by a dubious split decision, despite highly respected senior writer Paul Upham scoring the fight 115-114 to Mundine.

The next and most recent stop on the journey of discovering the strength of Anthony Mundine’s chin was his fight on June 8, 2005 against Denmark’s Mikkel Kessler.

Kessler gave Mundine conquer Manny Siaca the beating of his life 6 months earlier to take the WBA title. Kessler had abnormal size for a super middleweight (a clear 5kg heavier than Mundine on fight night!), and tremendous punching power. Leading up to the fight during a live chat at the website, No1 raked IBF Middleweight Sam Solimon, and main sparring partner for Kessler stated; “I have seen Kessler. I think it will be like Ivan Drago vs. Apollo Creed (Mundine is Creed).” most people felt the same.

However in this fight Mundine showed a jaw that can be only described as solid steel, even tungsten. Kessler, with his significant height, weight and power advantage was unable to wobble Mundine let alone put him down at any stage. And despite Mundine losing the fight which could have gone either way, he gained much credit for showing such a solid chin.

So now after looking at the above thread of history, its is very difficult to come to a conclusion as to whether Anthony Mundine has a jaw of steel, or one of fine china. Two things that are guaranteed however; people will continue to be critical Mundine’s ability to take a punch, and the other thing that is guaranteed, Mundine will continue to try and prove these people wrong.

Gavin Stone,

Article posted on 26.08.2005

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