How is Anthony Mundine still a thing? And are Jeff Horn’s ambitions fiscal or fistic?
These are the questions before Friday night’s potential horror show at Lang Park, which, if we’re being brutally honest, has beat down written all over it.
Mundine may be known as ‘The Man’, but at 43 he’s not the man he once was. Against a younger, hungrier ‘Hornet’ the fear is he’ll get badly stung.
“I’ve still got my faculties … I (don’t) speak with a slur,” he said in a recent interview with Mark Howard.
— FOX SPORTS Australia (@FOXSportsAUS) November 22, 2018
But Mundine slurred as he said it, and the word “don’t” was lost in the ether. Go back and listen to how cleanly he insulted Guy Waters before their 2001 bout to hear the difference.
Danny Green hurled the accusation at Mundine, too, during their brief, embarrassing appearance on a brief, embarrassing television program this year.
“Mate, the way you’re talking, it sounds like you’re damaged,” Green said.
Listening to the Howard interview left the impression Mundine has no business being in a boxing ring.
And yet for both men, this fight is purely business.
For Mundine, who has declared the bout will be his last, it serves to top up his superannuation.
For 30-year-old Horn, it’s a minimum risk, maximum payoff night out after he was vivisected in Las Vegas by Terence Crawford.
Of huge interest to both men is the weight.
Remember the old days, when there were about 14 weight classes and if someone was too far outside yours, you just didn’t fight them?
Well those days are long gone – now, if a match-up promises to make enough money, they’ll just negotiate a ‘catchweight’, where both parties agree to a limit outside an official class.
Friday night’s contest requires fighters to weigh in on Thursday at 71 kilograms or below, while a second weigh-in two hours before the fight will have a 75 kilograms limit.
For Mundine’s 2017 rematch with Danny Green he weighed in at 79.6 kilograms, while he was 72.4 kilograms for his most recent bout, in January against Tommy Browne.
Getting down to 71 kilograms will again put his ageing body under stress, and he will be at serious risk should he enter the ring dehydrated.
The 75-kilogram fight-night limit is designed to make sure he can’t replenish his body with abandon and, in a repugnant sideshow, Mundine will be fined $20,000 for every 100g he is over the 75-kilogram limit and $50,000 for each 100g if he is more than 500g over.
Only in boxing could this sort of make-it-up-as-we-go-along rubbish be allowed.
Horn has weight issues of his own. Since looking razor sharp at 66.68 kilograms in defeating Manny Pacquiao last year, he has laboured to a win over Gary Corcoran and been stopped by Crawford.
In both those fights, he had serious trouble melting his frame under the welterweight limit – it was, maybe, time to move up.
But a jump of nearly five kilograms is huge in boxing terms and how he fares against Mundine will no doubt inform the strategy for the remainder of his career.
If he looks good it will probably mean a move to junior middleweight (69.9 kilograms).
A quick look, however, shows the junior middleweight landscape doesn’t exactly overflow with marquee, big-money prospects – Englishman Kell Brook probably offers the best buck for his bang there.
If he looks bad – or, unthinkably, loses – it’s a bus ticket to Palookaville.
A win over a well-past-it Mundine might be good for the bank balance, but it won’t advance Horn’s career much.
This fight has zero appeal for anyone outside Australia, and not that much appeal for anyone inside it either.
After clashes with Pacquiao, Corcoran and Crawford – the former a living legend and the latter regarded as one of the very best around – we can forgive Horn for taking a less demanding fight.
But if he makes a habit of it then all the stories we’ve been sold about him wanting to “be the best by beating the best” will start to sound as hollow as, well, the man he’s fighting on Friday night.