The Daniel Geale who will step into the ring in Sydney on Wednesday night to defend his IBF Middleweight title is a far improved boxer to the young, raw athlete Anthony Mundine defeated in a split decision four years ago.
When the orthodox styled Australians met in Brisbane, May 2009, Mundine used his greater speed, experience and guile to wrest Geale’s IBO belt. Unlike his usual style, in which he drops his hands, tantalisingly so, waiting patiently for a gap in an opponent’s defences before unleashing a goanna tongue like jab, followed by a combination, Mundine, respectful of Geale’s instinctive willingness to constantly advance, held his hands high throughout. Mundine chose his punches well, the most telling a second round jab that sent an off-balance Geale down for a mandatory count.
Geale continued to move forward, however, with his defensive technique a work in progress, Mundine was able to pick holes. Although the result angered some, it was the correct decision.
But, as the saying goes, that was then, this is now.
Since losing to Mundine, Geale has sought the biggest fights available in an attempt to develop skills, build a reputation and climb rankings. All of which he has done, even achieving the so-called impossible – twice – returning from Germany with major world titles. Two years after losing to Mundine, Geale defeated Sebastian Sylvester to claim the IBF title, while last September, he added the WBA Super World Middleweight belt by outlasting Felix Sturm. Both decisions were split, however, Geale was the superior boxer, adopting his typically positive style.
Geale’s improvement has come in two areas: his defensive skills are tighter and neater and he is now more composed, demonstrated clearly against Sturm when he maintained composure despite receiving early head punches in front of an overly enthusiastic crowd that went into hysterics every time the home town hero threw a punch.
Contrary to public perception, Mundine has travelled abroad to fight recently, however, it’s the quality of opponents that still sees him receive criticism (that and his antagonistic nature). The boxers Mundine has stood opposite from haven’t exactly been world beaters and he has disposed of most quite easily, except of course, reality TV show winner, Garth Wood, who provided Mundine with the low point of his boxing career.
Although Mundine gained revenge against Wood, four years since Geale 1 and almost seven since he embarrassed Danny Green, time may have passed him.
Geale is now a complete boxer. If one exists. Aged thirty-one – six years younger than Mundine – and at his peak, Geale combines fearless attack, quick hands and tight defence. He has allowed himself to be stripped of the WBA title for not taking a mandatory defence in order to take this detour and meet Mundine. Victory will see Geale return his sights to Sergio Martinez Gabriel’s WBC title and unifying the middleweight belts.
A tad slower from when they first met, Mundine has predictably produced the trash talk, questioning Geale’s claims to being Indigenous. Perhaps privately Mundine believes this is his best chance of unsettling the Tasmanian.
Geale to receive redemption for the only loss of his career win in twelve entertaining rounds.