By Keith Idec
Jeff Horn didn’t even need two minutes to knock out Anthony Mundine on Friday night.
The former WBO welterweight champion caught Mundine with a left hook that floored his Australian rival with 1:33 to go in their scheduled 12-round middleweight match at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. Horn’s 43-year-old opponent tried to get up, but referee Phil Austin determined he was in no condition to continue and halted the quick bout with Mundine on his gloves and knees.
Austin stopped their heavily hyped domestic showdown just 1:36 into it.
The fight, which was contested at a catch weight of 156½ pounds, should signal the end of Mundine’s long and sometimes-controversial career.
Horn improved to 19-1-1 and recorded his 13th knockout before an adoring hometown crowd. Mundine slipped to 48-9 (28 KOs), lost by knockout or technical knockout for the fourth time and suffered the worst loss of his 18-year pro career.
The 30-year-old Horn’s youth and strength advantages were evident as soon as the opening bell rang. He overpowered the aged Mundine, despite that Mundine, a former super middleweight champion, had more experience fighting at higher weights.
“Look, I was expecting a tough fight from [Mundine],” Horn said. “I think he probably put it all in, all the buildup stuff was a real big buildup. I guess [it] got my adrenaline going, but I felt really, really strong in this fight.”
When asked if their fight was easier than he expected, Horn replied, “It was, actually. I was expecting a real hard fight. … It saves my brain just that little bit more. I’m happy to get it over and done quickly.”
Horn fought for the first time since Terence Crawford dominated him en route to a ninth-round stoppage in their June 9 fight for the WBO 147-pound championship Horn won from Manny Pacquiao in July 2017 at Suncorp Stadium. Moving forward, Horn isn’t sure if he’ll compete at the super welterweight limit of 154 pounds or move back down to welterweight (147).
“We’ll see what opportunities come,” Horn said. “That’s all we can do. I might stay at super welterweight/light middle. Who knows? We’ll see what opportunities we get. … With the quick knockout that I got, they’ll know that I’m more dangerous at this weight and I feel strong. That’s it, really. I feel a lot stronger than I do at welterweight.”
He caught Mundine with an overhand right just 13 seconds into their fight. Mundine moved backward after absorbing that shot, but came back to land a right hand of his own 15 seconds later.
Austin warned Horn 53 seconds into the fight for holding Mundine’s head down. Horn landed hard shots to Mundine’s body once the action resumed before unloading the left hook to Mundine’s head that ended their bout.
A stunned Mundine landed flat on his back. Austin’s count ended at eight as Mundine attempted to get up and their fight was stopped.
“I’ve had a great career,” Mundine said. “Jeff proved tonight that he was a better man, caught me with a better shot. He caught me with a shot early and, you know, that’s the next generation, man. So I passed it on to him.
“I was ready. I was prepared well. It’s boxing, man. You just get caught sometimes.”
Mundine made it clear this would be the last fight for a polarizing Australian legend who twice owned the WBA world super middleweight title.
“It proved tonight that Jeff was too strong,” Mundine said. “He just caught me with that good shot. And it was meant to be, bro, so I wanna take my hat off to Jeff. All the smack talk, all the sh*t I talked, you’ve gotta build the fight. You’ve gotta build the fight, you know? I mean, like, it’s the entertainment business, man. We ain’t playing. You know, but I’m all right. I’m all good. It’s boxing. You get caught like that sometimes.
“I just wanna be remembered as someone that’s real, someone that speaks the truth. Like I said, I take my hat off to Jeff and his team. And God-willing, they bounce back against some of the big guys.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.