Anthony Mundine’s legacy is in flames.
This is not how the greats go out.
Not like this.
Not like this.
The 45-year-old made a mockery of Australian boxing and anyone silly enough to purchase the pay-per-view when he stepped into the ring and was beaten into retirement in a pitiful two-minute, first round knockout at the hands of Michael Zerafa.
In a fight where Mundine was a $9 outsider and Zerafa had to produce a statement knockout to keep his hopes of a dream fight with Tim Tszyu alive, Zerafa delivered the exact result he needed.
Zerafa knocked Mundine down after 70 seconds and then had the fight called off when he landed a gut-punch, temple-hook combo that saw Mundine collapse backwards with the back of his head banging against the canvas.
The former rugby league star was an embarrassment in his final fight – never laying a glove on Zerafa and being knocked down twice in two minutes. He was officially put out of his misery at the 2.09mins mark in the first round.
It was the saddest of endings for one of the most unmissable careers Australian boxing has ever known.
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The former NRL star turned boxer had been urged by all corners of the fight family to ditch the gloves for good, but flatly rejected the avalanche of criticism and concern.
It shows how unhealthy it was for Mundine to be fighting in 2021, when former agent Khoder Nasser urged him to retire in 2013 after a loss to Daniel Geale. Eight years later The Man has finally got the message.
He learned the truth in painful, bloody fashion.
Mundine had shown against Jeff Horn in 2018 that he had lost the ability to absorb a punch.
It screamed “the end” more than any other time in the downwards spiral that began at the Sydney Entertainment Centre in 2013 against Geale.
The one weapon we thought Mundine had up his sleeve was his ability to create headlines and sell pay-per-view fights.
By the end even his salesman skills had deserted him — his fight shafted by Main Event, Fox Sports and major streaming services.
Everyone knew it was time, except for the Victorian combat sport authority that sanctioned the fight against the countering evidence it wasn’t safe for him to get in the ring.
Whether it was his promoter, team or family — someone had to save Mundine from himself.
Instead, Zerafa did their job for them in brutal fashion.
We thought Mundine was finally done when he copped a hammering at the hands of Jeff Horn in late 2018 and then a loss to John Wayne Parr in 2019.
He retired for the fifth time that night. If only he had.
The pull of the ring has got the better of some of the greatest boxers in the history of the sport.
Roy Jones Jr, Ricky Hatton, Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali all had some shine scratched off their glittering careers by sticking around too long.
Mundine had won just one fight since 2014 and lost five of his final six fights, taking his official record to 48-11 — hardly the resume of a future member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Having claimed last month to have earned more than $34million in his sporting career, Mundine said right from the start his return to the ring against Zerafa was never about money.
He said it was about going out on his terms, as a winner.
Instead it has further torn apart a legacy already tarnished by a pathetic end to a once glittering career.
No longer is Mundine the man who famously won the WBA super middleweight and IBO middleweight world championship belts. No longer is he the man that was the face of Australian boxing for so many years when no one else was able to demand the spotlight on the international scene.
No longer the man who broke all the pay-per-view records with his showdowns with Danny Green.
He is still all those things and much more — but they are no longer the first thing you think of when you think Mundine.
A sad farewell that played out in excruciating fashion, described at one point by Aussie legend Jeff Fenech as “embarrassing”, is now the thing that will cling to Mundine and his legacy forever.
After losing five of his final six fights, defeat almost defines him — and that is terribly unfair and unfortunate.
He bowed out in front of a small crowd in Bendigo, Victoria. He bowed out on a card that was ignored by Foxtel’s Main Event, forced to end his career on the live stream of a website with minimal broadcast production.
The smell of his walk into the sunset will always stick with him.
Instead of being “The Man”, he is the man who should have walked long ago. A cautionary tale.