Sport Boxing Anthony Mundine: When the music’s over
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Anthony Mundine: When the music’s over

Anthony Mundine
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Mundine floored five times in massive loss

There’ll be a few pieces written across this country urging Anthony Mundine to retire on Thursday.

They’ll be written by men who’ve never set foot inside a boxing ring and have no clue that the challenges he’ll face away from the sport will be every bit as imposing as those he faced from Sven Ottke, Mikkel Kessler or Danny Green.

Of course, the reasons were immediately apparent during his 12-round loss to Ghanaian Joshua Clottey in Newcastle on Wednesday night.

Clottey himself is a good few years past his best but was still more than capable of showing up Mundine’s shortcomings. His reflexes aren’t what they used to be, and his hand and foot speed are fading fast.

Clottey battered him to the canvas five times en route to a lopsided points win.

Retirement is a momentous decision for any athlete – just look at the struggles faced by Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett since they stepped away from the sport that defined them.

We are beginning to realise the effects retirement can have on the mental health of our athletes, and bodies like the AFL and NRL are keen to improve protocols to help sportspeople better make the transition into the next phase of life.

Boxers, however, do it a bit tougher. There’s no players’ association, no pension funds or support for fighters who retire.

Thankfully Mundine won’t struggle financially – he’s done very well for himself with his Wednesday night pay-per-view extravaganzas, and he shouldn’t have to worry about money for the rest of his life.

The trouble for Mundine is not going to be a fiscal one, but an emotional one.

He’s no dummy, although his career has shown he has a tendency to speak before putting his brain in gear.

Mundine could follow the example of Sydney Swan Adam Goodes, who is setting himself for life post-football with his interest in indigenous affairs and social activism.

Mundine, for so long defined by his exploits on the football field and the boxing ring, needs to develop a new skill set.

After Wednesday night’s fight he said he wasn’t going to rush in to any decision on retirement, that he was going to take a long break with his family.

While he’s on that break he should have a listen to some recent interviews with Tommy Hearns, or his last opponent Shane Mosley, or Riddick Bowe, or any number of boxers who clung on too long.

Each of their speech has thickened by some degree after too many years of taking blows to the head.

He should think long and hard not about whether he should fight on, but rather what he’s going to after the music’s over.

Because one day soon it will be, and Anthony Mundine could achieve more in retirement than he ever did in football boots or boxing gloves.

But not if he keeps taking punches like those he did on Wednesday. Then he’ll be just another pug, walking on his heels and slurring his words.

Surely Mundine is smarter than that?