WORLD middleweight champion Daniel Geale said he wanted to prove during Wednesday night's crushing points win over Anthony Mundine that the notion of sportsmanship was sacred - even against an ''idiot''.
Despite a bitter build-up to the Sydney bout that included Mundine questioning Geale's Aboriginal heritage, his right to fly the Aboriginal flag and claiming the champion's wife Sheena and their kids were ''white'', Geale still offered Mundine his glove at the beginning of the 12th and final round.
The gesture is used by some fighters to acknowledge a good effort and to wish their opponent luck in the final round. When Mundine refused to tap Geale's out-stretched glove, it was interpreted as the same insult as a refusal to shake hands.
Geale, however, said the snub did not shock him.
''I expected it,'' he said. ''I do what is right. I do a lot of work with a lot of young amateur boxers around our gym and I wanted to show sportsmanship. I didn't care what he might or mightn't do. I was going to show sportsmanship [regardless], I was going to show my young fighters that whether you're in the ring with an idiot or not you show them respect.
''However, if they don't show you respect after that, well, you don't need to continue to show it to them … I just want to teach my young guys the right way to do it.''
As the IBF champion collected his children from school on Thursday, he said it would please him if the fight was used to prove nice guys don't always finish last.
''Forget the idea of nice guys coming last because sometimes you can definitely win if you're prepared to work hard and show discipline and I'll continue to pass that message on to anyone who listens to me.''
The ''too white'' slur offended 31-year-old Geale, who is proud of his heritage and his family. However, he said rather than engage in a war of words it was always his intention to silence Mundine in the brightest of lights - the boxing ring.
''I don't get caught up in the trash-talk,'' he said of his dignified silence. ''I saw all that as a sign of weakness on his behalf. Winning the fight, that's what it was about. As I said to him at the weigh-in, 'The talk is over, now it's time for action'.''
Geale, who lost his IBO title to Mundine in controversial circumstances in their first bout in 2009 (many critics believed he, and not Mundine, deserved the nod) described his latest victory as ''huge'' and that it compared favourably with his triumphs over German world champions Felix Sturm and Sebastian Sylvester.
He also admitted Mundine's post-bout claim that his conqueror ''knew'' he had really lost at a packed Sydney Entertainment Centre was music to his ears, considering the way Mundine treated him four years ago.
''It adds to it all, the sour grapes,'' he said. ''Deep down he'd know [I won]. This win is huge, especially when you consider the position I was in last time we fought. I was the champion, I lost the fight, I had to take it on the chin. We wanted the rematch but it wasn't going to happen; had to bide our time. We had to wait for him to come back to me and I knew if I ever got the opportunity I wouldn't let it slip.
''I learned from watching him that he couldn't handle pressure. In saying that he's been in a lot of fights, he's experienced and I knew I had to be prepared to work very hard to beat him and I was ready when the chance came.''
Geale said he was well aware of the expectation on him to defeat Mundine.
''I enjoyed it,'' he said. ''I didn't feel it as pressure, I saw it as support. I knew what people wanted for me to do, they wanted me to knock him out … they wanted me to win … I stuck to the plan me and my team devised and I did what I do best.''
Geale-Mundine revisited: 12 notes from 12 rounds of the middleweight title fight
Round one – Result
Don't bother buying into the faux controversy from the fight. The only thing to be outraged at was that Daniel Geale didn't win by a wider margin. Anthony Mundine was backed up time and again by the IBF titleist, who by the end of the third round knew he simply could not be hurt. Mundine showed heart to tough it out but any discord over the scoring is pure fiction. For what it counts, I had Geale pitching a shut-out, or losing one round maximum.
Round two – Instant karma
Mundine loves to talk it up pre-fight. I've always been fine with that, mostly because it's usually harmless and I've enjoyed writing about the exchanges. This time, a line was crossed. Geale seemed to brush off his opponent's comments about his heritage (more on that later), but deep down it's clear they fuelled his fires. Look at the way Geale relished delivering the shots to Mundine. In the darkest corners of his mind, I think Mundine knew this fight was trouble. His attempt to put Geale off his game not only fell short but blew up in his face.
Round three – Quality
Rematch? Not for me. This fight was enjoyable but not anything resembling a classic. It was too one-sided to be regarded in any sort of historical perspective and the most enjoyable part was to see Geale's continued and rapid improvement. He fought like the champ and took care of business in clinical fashion. Mundine isn't washed up but was a few levels out of his depth. When he beat Geale the first time, the Tasmanian was still learning. This time, he was at the top of his game and handed out a lesson.
Round four – Reaction from Geale's camp
At the end of the fight, Geale looked like he could pick a prospect from the crowd and do it all again. He looked in complete control of his emotions, as he had done all week, and knew only an old-fashioned heist could rob him of the victory. He hadn't doubted himself once, despite the verbal attacks from Mundine that convinced thousands of punters to invest their money on The Man.
Round five – The view from Planet Mundine
Bizarre to say the least. I've seen both fighters celebrate when the scores are close but can't remember too many claiming victory in the face of such a lop-sided beating. At some point during the week, Mundine managed to convince himself that the perceived injustices he created in his mind were real and duly stormed out of the ring, claiming he was robbed. Time to take the blue pill.
Round six – Geale's breakthrough
This fight gave Geale unprecedented exposure to the local audience, although even he would have to acknowledge that was mostly off the back of Mundine's notoriety. Even so, Geale's polished and professional performance has given part-time fight fans a taste of what he can do. He's an elite Australian athlete that now has a fan base who should be happy to come back for more.
Round seven – International observers
American boxing writers watched the fight mostly for Geale, who has a much higher profile given his position in the stacked middleweight division. ESPN's Dan Rafael gave Mundine just one round and Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix welcomed the lopsided decision. It's clear Geale has influential fans in the American media. Mundine, not so much.
Round eight – Geale's next move
Take your pick. Geale is the kind of all-pressure, all-action fighter the American pay-per-view networks love and he and promoter Gary Shaw have some decisions to make. Whoever he fights, Geale won't get the easy ride he found himself peddling through against Mundine. The dangerous Gennady Golovkin is one option, as is New York-based Irishman Matthew Macklin, who pushed the divisional top dog Sergio Martinez to the brink in March before being stopped in the 11th round. Geale is now rated as the second-best middleweight in the world.
Round nine – Mundine's future
At the age of 37, Mundine should probably retire. He showed he had some skills left against Geale but the body couldn't execute what the mind was ordering. He was a step off the pace, didn't have anywhere near the tank of Geale and couldn't find power in either hand. I'm guessing his hangers on will keep telling him he was the real winner, so I expect to see him in the ring again. But as for genuine world title aspirations against the cream like Geale, those days are over. I'd be stunned if he doesn't become a full-time promoter at some point.
Round 10 – Wasted legacy
Mundine's sad walkout at the end of the fight and need to denigrate fellow indigenous Australians like Geale and Arthur Beetson does him a great disservice. He has the potential to be a real advocate for social change in Aboriginal communities around Australia and that remains one of his enduring passions. But if he never fights again, the lasting memory will be of a bitter man stubbornly unable to confront his own shortcomings and seemingly determined to squander any ounce of goodwill left. I genuinely hope he can somehow turn things around.
Round 11 – Changing of the guard
It's been a long time since occasional fight fans knew a domestic boxing scene that wasn't dominated in some form of another by Mundine. Fair play – he's given the sport a kick along and lined his pockets along the way. Now he's destined to be a diminishing presence, in the ring at least, while fighters like Geale and Billy Dib rise to the occasion. It's a new era.
Round 12 – Twitter KOs
It was a fun social media fight and the clangers were coming thick and fast. A personal favourite came from the news.com.au feed, which somehow had the fight even after seven rounds, and of course Sonny Bill Williams, who shared Mundine's outrage before apologising for his lack of respect. He fights in Brisbane next Friday – let's hope he learns how the scoring system works by then.