Daniel Geale was two weeks removed from unifying middleweight titles with his surprising split decision win against Felix Sturm in Germany when he arrived with co-promoter Gary Shaw in Las Vegas to watch the Sept. 15 showdown between lineal champion Sergio Martinez and titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Geale and Shaw hoped they could lure the winner into a fight or, at the very least, entice HBO to spend big bucks on his next bout. Martinez won but will be out until at least May because of a knee injury and HBO, while interested, was not on the same financial page as Geale and Shaw.
So Geale will instead defend his two alphabet belts against Australian countryman Anthony Mundine, a former super middleweight titlist, in what will be a major fight in their country. The fight is signed and they will meet in late January on a day to be announced at an Australian site to be determined, Shaw announced Tuesday.
The fight will give Geale an opportunity to avenge his only career defeat, a split decision loss to Mundine (44-4, 26 KOs) in May 2009.
"Anthony should go into hiding. Daniel will embarrass him," said Garrie Francisco, Geale's co-manager with Bill Treacy.
After Geale defeated Sturm, one of his mandatory defenses -- against Australia's Sam Soliman -- was due. However, Shaw said he was granted an exception by the IBF in order to put together the optional defense against Mundine, 37, which figures to be a far more lucrative bout than one with Soliman, who became the mandatory challenger with a unanimous decision win against Giovanni Lorenzo in August. Mundine owns three victories against Soliman.
"Now that we got the green light from the IBF to make this fight, I'm going to work hard to get everything completed," Shaw said. "This might be the biggest fight in Australian boxing history, as both fighters consider this a grudge match."
Geale (28-1, 15 KOs), 31, has won seven fights in a row since the loss to Mundine, including decision wins against Sebastian Sylvester and Sturm to pick up two of the world titles in the 160-pound division. He would like now to avenge his defeat.
"When Mundine and I first fought, I thought my hands were going to be raised after the fight," Geale said. "It was close but I thought I was the better man that night. I've always wanted revenge against Anthony, and now I have the opportunity thanks to my promotional teams Grange Old School Boxing and Gary Shaw Productions."
Mundine suffered a major upset loss to Garth Wood in December 2010 when he was knocked out in the fifth round. Since then, he has won four bouts in a row, including avenging the loss to Wood with a unanimous 10-round decision in the immediate rematch in April 2011.
"This is a fight that all of Australia has wanted to see and I'm glad it has finally come together," Mundine said. "I always said Daniel would be a world champion if he didn't have to fight me and that has proven to be the case. People are saying he is the best middleweight in the world, but he is not even the best middleweight in Australia. I beat him once and I'll do it again."
Mundine has fought between junior middleweight and super middleweight but has steadily gone down in weight, which is unusual, rather than move up in weight. Now he will be returning to the middleweight division.
"Anthony has been working away at junior middleweight but this is a fight that can't be ignored," said Tony Mundine, Anthony's father and trainer. "He loves the big fights and I know that when the bell rings for round one, my boy will be ready to go."
Said Geale trainer Graham Shaw (no relation to Gary Shaw), "Daniel is fighting at an incredible level these days. We never look past the next fight and for this bout we will be extremely focused.
"In the first fight with Mundine our preparation was solid and I thought we won. Since that decision went against us we have moved on and successfully campaigned against the best fighters in the business, and I expect Daniel to win the rematch, as he has improved 200 percent and Anthony has not. Daniel now has two world titles and we will not leave this fight in the hands of the judges."
The fight will be a pay-per-view event in Australia. Shaw said he hoped to make an American television deal.
The formal news conference to announce the fight will take place on Thursday in Sydney.