By Jake Donovan
Prior to the start of his fight with Charles Hatley, it was leaked out that Anthony Mundine has conditionally to terms for a rematch with Danny Green in 2016.
The event could still take place but has certainly lost its appeal after Hatley stunned the Aussie legend, delivering the performance of his career with an 11th round knockout Wednesday evening at the Convention & Exhibition Centre in Melbourne, Australia.
Mundine looked every bit the part of a 40-year old weight-drained boxer who hadn't fought in 52 weeks, as he was no match for the determined American challenger. A fast start by Hatley had Mundine behind the eight-ball, never in more trouble than when he was floored three times in a disastrous round two.
Referee Bruce McTavish allowed the action to continue, which only gave Mundine the opportunity the chance to display his enormous fighting heart. The local legend summoned up the strength to briefly stun Hatley in round three, but any offense he was able to mount was limited to isolated moments while his opponent's attack was relentless.
Because the World Boxing Council recognizes Mundine as a "Silver" titlist, open scoring was in effect for the bout. Hatley was ahead 40-33 (twice) and 39-34 after four rounds. The writing was on the wall that a dramatic turnaround was needed for the Oz boxer, but it simply was not in the cards.
Things went from bad to worse for Mundine, who suffered a cut over his left eye in round seven and the wound worsening in a competitive round eight in which Hatley was once again briefly rocked. The judges were still appreciative of the work behind put in by the veteran puncher from Dallas, who led 80-68, 79-70 and an oddly scored 79-73 after eight rounds.
With the fight seemingly in the bag, Hatley attempted prevent defense in the later rounds. Just as it never works in team sports, sacrificing offense for defense resulted in a flash knockdown, as Mundine charged in free of incoming to catch the American with a right hand shot.
Historically never known to take a good shot, Hatley went against the scouting report as he rose from the canvas and stormed back to actually win the rest of the round. Translation: the sequence was to be Mundine's last great moment in the sun.
The local favorite was on the deck for a fourth time in round eleven, but there would be no more brave stand. Tony Mundine came on the ring apron to rescue his son in demanding the fight be stopped.
Hatley rolls to 26-1-1 (18KOs). His nickname "The Future" never proved as prolific as the performance he was able to produce on the road, as his future looks brighter than ever. Undoubtedly, a slew of super welterweights will call out the Dallas native - who turns 30 next January - as it doesn't take much for the ambulance chasers to come flying off the street.
As for Mundine, logic suggests that the end isn't just near but has smacked him dead in the face. The most successful crossover athlete in Australian history, the former rugby star turned two-time super middleweight champ falls to 47-4 (29KOs) with the loss, his second in his past three fights.
The previous setback came at the hands of former welterweight champ Joshua Clottey, who dropped Mundine five times in claiming a landslide decision last April. As only boxing can, Clottey wound up on the shelf while Mundine fought for - and won - a "Silver" title in a split decision nod over Sergey Rabchenko exactly 52 weeks ago.
His time spent on the sidelines was spent nursing injuries and continuing his pursuit of a fantasy superfight with Floyd Mayweather, who has since announced his retirement.
Mundine would be wise to follow suit, although it remains to be seen if there still remains any appeal behind a return go with Green, whom he bested over 12 rounds in a May '06 title eliminator. Talks of the planned rematch centered around a meet at light heavyweight - Mundine moving up, while Green coming down from cruiserweight.
Whatever happens from here on out, it will no longer involve Mundine as a notable player in any weight class. An entire career spent performing on Pay-Per-View (Wednesday's showing aired live on Australia Main Event), either one last sideshow or a clean break from the sport is all that is left that his 15-year career and 40-year old broken down body has to offer.
Melbourne's own Kane Watts (16-2, 9KOs) earned his seventh consecutive win, the latest coming in a 6th round knockout of overmatched Thomas Heads (2-3).
What threatened to become a distance fight instead ending with Watts turning up the heat in the sixth and final round. A flurry of ten answered punches - puncuated by three straight right hands upstairs - left Heads defenseless in the corner, prompting referee Jim Boland to jump in and stop the contest.
The official time was 2:13 of round six.
Competition level notwithstanding, Watts remains on a roll. Seven wins have followed a brave showing in his April '13 10-round loss to Daniel Ammann.
Famed footballer Shane Tuck became the latest from that world to give boxing a try. It produced frightentingly horrible results, as he was knocked out cold in four rounds by southpaw Lucas Miller (1-0-1, 1KO) in their cruiserweight battle Wednesday evening in Melbourne, Australia.
Tuck - the son of Australian Football League legend Michael Tuck - appeared in over his head from the opening bell. A gifted football player, the 33-year old crossover athlete didn't show much in the way of boxing talent other than heart and the ability to absorb.
His chin eventually gave in, as Miller landed a fight-ending right hook in round four. Tuck was unconscious and in need of immediate medical assistance, only for his safety to be blatantly disregarded by referee Malcolm Bulner, who was either inept or just that desperate for television time.
Whatever the case, Tuck (0-1) had to be carried out of the ring on a stretcher, though thankfully regained consciousness and was responsive as the onsite medical team prepared to transport him to a nearby hospital for further observation.
Blake Caparello extended his win streak to three straight following a six-round unanimous decision over Luke Sharp.
The former light heavyweight title challenger was effective in his second start as a super middleweight, looking light on his feet and was quicker to the punch on nearly every exchange. Sharp had his moments, but even those were met by sharp (no pun intended) counter punches by Caparello, who prevailed 60-54 (twice) and 59-55.
Caparello moves to 22-1-1 (6KOs), with the bout serving as a consolation for his canceled trip to the United States. The 29-year old was due to face Andre Dirrell last month in Fairfax, Virginia, only for the American super middleweight contender to pull out of the fight due to injury.
Given the way that card played out, it was perhaps in Caparello's best interest that he instead settles for a six-round stay busy fight. The win is his third in a row since getting starched in two rounds by unbeaten light heavyweight champ Sergey Kovalev last August.
In the most competitive bout of the undercard, Qamil Balla preserved his undefeated record with a six-round decision over Ben Warburton. Scores were 60-54, 59-55 and 58-56 - the last card being the closest to the truth in terms of what took place in the ring.
Balla moves to 8-0-1 (3KOs) in his first fight at lightweight, dropping down from the 140 lb. division. Warburton falls to 11-3-1, having now dropped two of his last three starts.
Cameron Hammond remained unbeaten after posting a unanimous decision win over Indonesia's Sahlan Coral (14-4, 8KOs). Scores were 60-54 across the board in favor of Hammon (15-0, 8KOs) in a welterweight bout shortened from eight rounds to six.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox