=== Aussie Geale aims to conquer homeland, middleweights ===
By Lyle Fitzsimmons, Boxing Editor
Cape Coral, FL (Sports Network) - It's been an important few years for Daniel
Though the native Australian became a world champion by capturing the IBO's
middleweight crown in late 2007, it wasn't until he lost that belt to
countryman Anthony Mundine 17 months later that his climb to the upper 160-
pound echelons actually seemed to begin.
Three fights after the Mundine meeting, which remains his lone career loss,
Geale stopped Russian veteran Roman Karmazin to earn a shot at IBF claimant
Sebastian Sylvester in late 2010. He ventured to Germany the next spring to
dethrone the incumbent by split decision, and has since defended three times,
including a return trip to Germany to end Felix Sturm's five-year run as WBA
Geale is back to face a familiar foe (Mundine) on familiar turf (Sydney) this
Wednesday, in his latest bid to reach the rarified air now claimed by the
division's consensus No. 1, Argentine vet Sergio Martinez.
We caught up with the 31-year-old in his final few days of training camp to
discuss the Mundine rematch, his plans to one day fight in the United States
and exactly where he sees himself amid the collection of viable entities at
Fitzbitz: Not that long ago, you were an Australian middleweight with a
lightly-regarded title belt and little recognition outside your home country.
These days, you have recognizable credentials and you're in the top three at
160 pounds on all legitimate lists. Talk about the climb you've made. Are you
surprised at all? Was it always expected? How important was it to you to be
taken more seriously worldwide?
Geale: For me it is a constant learning process. Boxing has been my life for
20 years and you only get out what you put in. Every day I challenge myself to
improve skills and fitness so that when I face up to each new opponent they
are fighting the best version of me at that time. I don't really dwell too
much on what I am achieving at the moment. Whilst I am proud of the milestones
on the journey, the job is far from finished and no matter how I am judged I
will always be able to look back and know I did the best I could do.
Fitzbitz: Looking back, the only blemish on the record is the first Mundine
fight. What can you tell me about it? Clearly, you thought you won, correct?
Can you recall how the fight unfolded and what sorts of challenges he
presented that were especially memorable?
Geale: The fight with Mundine seems a lifetime ago and I was a different
fighter back then. On the night I believed I had done enough to retain my
belt. Anthony is a great athlete, has good speed and reasonable power. Apart
from me being lazy and getting caught early, he didn't present many
Fitzbitz: I'm not as aware of the state of things in Australia, but it seems
that in the United States Mundine is known as much for what he says as what he
does in the ring. Can you tell me how the public generally perceives Mundine?
Is he seen as a legitimate fighter, more of a character or something in
Geale: I don't like to judge others, but Anthony has built his career more on
what he says than what he has achieved.
Fitzbitz: What's the relationship like between you two? Legitimate dislike?
Simple competitive rivalry? Are you any more motivated facing him than you
would be anyone else? How much does the fact that he's the only one who can
claim to have beaten you figure into it?
Geale: We have no relationship. Any feelings I have toward him will be sorted
out in the ring on Jan. 30.
Fitzbitz: What is the atmosphere for a top-end professional athlete in your
country? Are you recognized on the street? Do you have a significant fan base?
How does it compare to the adulation that other athletes you're aware of get
in their own home countries?
Geale: I am humbled by the recognition I am receiving, when at the end of the
day I'm just a man doing the best he can for his family who just happens to
fight for a living.
Fitzbitz: You've fought a couple title fights outside Australia. Did you enjoy
competing elsewhere? How important, in your view, will it be to take fights in
Europe or the United States as you continue forward as a professional? Is it
something you see as necessary, or are you happy enough staying where you are?
Geale: I've always enjoyed travelling to compete in other countries as both an
amateur and a professional. It adds a little extra satisfaction when you
venture in to someone's backyard as an unknown and an underdog then come away
victorious. I can't wait to fight in the U.S.A. I thought the opportunity had
arrived after my last win in Germany and my team had me ringside to look at
fighting the winner of Chavez vs. Martinez. Unfortunately that was not to be,
but I'm sure a stateside debut is not far away.
Fitzbitz: Look at the rest of the 160-pounders in the world. Regardless of
who's got what belt, who is the best fighter in the division? Is it you? If
so, why? If not, who is it and why?
Geale: The middleweight division is a great place to be at the moment, with a
lot of class opponents and great potential matchups Martinez, Murray,
Golovkin, Quillin, Chavez, Macklin, Sturm and I am happy to fight any and all
of them. Sergio is regarded No. 1 and I look forward to meeting him when the
time comes. To be the best you have to beat the best.
Fitzbitz: Speaking of the landscape at 160, and assuming things go well
against Mundine, what's on the agenda? Is it Sergio Martinez? Chavez? Someone
else? Is a move to 168 a thought, considering all the big names that reside
there? What goals do you have remaining as a professional?
Geale: The winner of Soliman vs. Sturm will become my IBF mandatory, but I
leave all that to my team. For now I'm just concentrating on my next fight and
when that is over I'll get ready for whoever is put in front of me.
Fitzbitz: And, along those lines, when you decide to hang up the gloves --
whenever that is -- what do you have to accomplish to allow yourself to
consider the career a success? Was winning a world title the ultimate goal? Do
you want to be considered a top pound-for-pound fighter?
Geale: I don't really think about an end. My life is boxing and when I stop
competing I will continue working with my amateur team and putting back in to
the sport that has given me so much. How I am rated when my career is over is
something for others to decide. All that is important to me is that I do the
best I can for my family.
* * * * * * * * * *
This week's title-fight schedule:
IBF middleweight title - Sydney, Australia
Daniel Geale (champion) vs. Anthony Mundine (No. 5 contender)
Geale (28-1, 15 KO): Fourth title defense; Former IBO/WBA champion at 160
Mundine (44-4, 26 KO): Twelfth title fight (8-3); Defeated Geale for IBO title
in 2009 (SD 12)
Fitzbitz says: "The younger of the two Australians has improved greatly since
first his meeting with Mundine, and should even the score to hold onto his
third title belt." Geale by decision
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-
fledged title-holder -- no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA
"world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the
Last week's picks: None
2013 picks record: 2-1 (66.6 percent)
Overall picks record: 464-153 (75.2 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons is a veteran sports columnist who's written professionally
since 1988 and covered boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and
posted online for clients in North America and Europe. Reach him at
email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @fitzbitz.
01/29 15:48:20 ET