In the spirit of Michael Jordan, Deon Sanders and Beau Jackson, all stars in one sport who flirted with another sport, with varying degrees of success, former super middleweight champion Anthony Mundine (23-2 18 knockouts) is returning the sport he abandoned five years ago to take up arms for the sweet science. He said that after his May 11 title fight against WBC champion Mikkel Kessler at the Sydney Entertainment Center he is returning to the sport of rugby.
“I never said I was going to give up my boxing career,” Mundine said. “Obviously I will defend the belt after the season, because I have to put some pounds back on to become stronger and more explosive as a league player. But I'm not going to stop boxing.”
The Brits love rugby even more than they love boxing. So many are enthused.
“The response has been massive,” Mundine said in response to his announcement that he planned to return to the NRL. “Everyone wants to know what's going on.”
Mundine explained what’s going on: “I feel that I've got unfinished business in that area and after the fight we want to come back and play this season. I want to come back the same way I went out, as being The Man. So you can call that the Resurrection of The Man. I'm back, baby.”
Mundine quit the NRL in 2000 to pursue a career in boxing. He was frustrated in the rugby league, claiming his race, the color of his skin, kept him from playing more than just a handful of representative matches, a claim which won little support from within the game.
The rugby league was stunned but not sorry to see him go when he walked out on the Dragons and headed overseas.
Under the guidance of his father Tony, Mundine fought for the WBA super middleweight crown for the first time in 2001, losing to German Sven Ottke. He won the interim version in September 2003 by decisioning Antwun Echols, but lost his first mandatory defense against Manny Siaca.
With his return to rugby after all these years, some suspicious souls sense ulterior motives.
“People are going to say: 'He's talking this. He's talking that.’ They can say what they want. We'll see what happens in June,” said Mundine. “Right now I want to talk to a few clubs to see where their vision's at, to see where their dedication's at, and their desire to be the best.”
Rugby aside, hopefully Anthony Mundine hasn’t thrown his final punch.