German Who Destroyed Anthony Mundine Gives Him Stunning, Unexpected Compliment
So The Man really was the man after all.
Remember Sven Ottke?
He's the German who floored Anthony Mundine with a brutal knockout punch all the way back in 2001. The lights-out moment was Mundine's first career loss, and a real coming-back-to-earth moment in every sense.
Seventeen years on, as Mundine prepares for what will likely be his last fight against Jeff Horn in the "River City Rumble" in Brisbane on Friday night -- it's worth noting Ottke's thoughts on The Man.
Surprisingly, Ottke rates Mundine highly. Exceptionally highly, in fact.
And that's saying something considering the German is a legend of the sport who eventually retired with a perfect 34-0 career record.
A little context:
When Mundine fought Ottke in December 2001, the Aussie's rugby league career was barely 18 months behind him. While he was fit, and had plenty of boxing nous in his corner -- not least his champion fighter dad Tony -- you can't learn smarts overnight in any sport.
Mundine led the fight in Dortmund for much of its 10 rounds. But his athleticism and copious self-belief just wasn't enough. Ottke waited for his moment, and brutally took it. Experience won that fight as much as the German's right fist.
As Mundine told PlayersVoice earlier this month: "Looking back, I was out of my mind taking that fight at the time I did".
Surprisingly, we now know that Sven Ottke didn't feel that way at all.
In an interview with boxing site The Ring earlier this year, Ottke quite stunningly rated Mundine as the best he'd faced. As in, the best across his whole undefeated career.
Indeed, Ottke rated Mundine as his most fearsome opponent in 7 out of 10 distinct categories. They included:
- Best jab
- Best defence
- Fastest hands
- Best footwork
- Boxing skills
- Best overall
That's right, best overall. Really. We're shocked too.
"Mundine had great tactics. He was very fluid. He had a strong mind and a good fighting attitude," Ottke said.
"It was my toughest fight in my whole career, until the knockout."
The Ottke/Mundine fight came at an interesting junction in the public life of Anthony Mundine. Months earlier, the September 11 attacks had happened, After them, Mundine said "America's brought it upon themselves" among other highly inflammatory comments.
Mundine has spent much of the ensuing 17 years explaining how his comments were taken out of context. He now says he was calling American foreign policy to question, not wishing ill upon anyone.
But at the time, it caused a huge surge of anti-Mundine feeling in Australia and beyond. Many Australians already disliked him for his braggadocio and motor mouth. Now, they had another reason to hate him.
When Mundine got laid back on his back by Ottke, many Australians cheered. Over the years they would jeer and cheer more as he amassed a 48-8 career win/loss record.
Mundine has mellowed over the years and become a likeable figure to most people. He did his share of trash talking at Wednesday's pre-fight press-conference, but which boxer doesn't? It's all show now.
Love him or hate him, people are now starting to assess the sporting legacy of the boxer who has held three world title belts.
Who'd have thought the man rating Mundine highest would be the bloke who dealt him his most ferocious knockout?