Anthony Mundine wound back the clock to outclass Belarusian boxer Sergey Rabchenko and keep alive his dream of another world title.
The Australian veteran used his experience and ring smarts at Melbourne’s Hisense Arena to nullify his younger opponent’s power and win on a split points decision.
The victory gave the 39-year-old the WBC silver light middleweight title and moved him closer to a fight with American pound-for-pound king and WBC light middleweight title holder Floyd Mayweather.
With his career on the line Mundine looked sharp from the outset with the big hitting Rabchenko unable to penetrate his tight defence.
After four rounds two judges had Mundine ahead.
The Australian copped plenty of punishment in the seventh round from Rabchenko, who was previously unbeaten in 25 fights with 18 by knock out.
Mundine showed his desperation and fought back towards the end of the round but the damage was done with the fight all tied up at the end of the eighth.
One judge had the Belarusian ahead, one a draw and one scored Mundine in front.
Rabchenko then rocked his elder at the end of the 11th but the fight was still anyone’s heading into the final round.
Mundine was willed on by the vocal home crowd. He couldn’t land a knock-out blow but did enough to get the win.
One judge scored Rabchenko the winner 115-113, with the other two giving Mundine the fight 115-113 and 116-112.
Mundine said he knew he could beat Rabchenko even when many others didn’t.
“I fought a young lion tonight who can punch, a young lion who had power in both hands but I took everything he had,” he said.
“I showed him my chin plus heart.”
In Mundine’s last fight he was knocked down five times in a loss to Ghana’s Joshua Clottey.
He said he was much better prepared and his defence was significantly improved.
The outspoken Mundine maintained his belief he could go after even bigger fights, with Mayweather the biggest prize.
He’s now the mandatory to fight him.
“I think Floyd is the best and it’s up to him if he wants to fight me,” he said.