THERE has been a quiet unpracticality surrounding the ascension of Jeff Horn.
No Australian-born fighter has followed the blueprint adopted by the Brisbane-based Horn and his team. The trajectory of his career, which was essentially all systems go from his fourth professional fight onwards, saw him rise to the top of his division domestically with minimal fuss.
While the naysayers are somewhat justified in their criticism of his resume when compared to those that have challenged Pacquiao before him, there is no doubting his enthusiasm for the challenge at hand. Are there more deserving challengers on a global scale? There is a strong argument in favour of the answer yes.
However, has there ever been a locally produced combatant that has been fast-tracked to a world title bid against the opposition that Horn has consistently faced? The answer is a resounding no.
And for those who look to doubt this, simple check the credentials of those who have fallen to ‘The Hornet’.
After just three professional fights, Horn faced former Commonwealth Games representative Rivan Cesaire, a fighter riding an impressive eight-fight win streak. A premature ending due to a head clash resulted in the only draw of Horn’s fledgling career. But as their rematch seven months later promptly proved, Horn was and remains to be the far superior fighter.
The acid tests continued in Horn’s seventh professional fight, where he challenged former two-time world title challenger Naoufel Ben Rabeh, a fighter who was long seen as the best in his division whilst holding the mantle of the most avoided for the best part of a decade.
As history would have it, Horn scored an epic unanimous decision win away from home in Ben Rabah’s adopted backyard in a result that arguably sits as one of his most significant, given both his inexperience and overall enormity of the challenge itself.
Having conquered a slew of credible international opponents on his way to an unlikely world title bid against future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao at Suncorp Stadium, it comes as little surprise to the fighter himself that his methods are still being doubted.
There is an unique tranquility about the fighting style of the dual 2015 and 2016 consensus Fighter of the Year, but as he admits, there is a label to his uncharacteristic approach.
“We like to describe ourselves as broken rhythm pressure fighters,” said Horn at his open workout in Brisbane. “You never know when we’re going to come – we will punch and feint a lot – we’re always on the attack, but you don’t know when that attack is coming.”
That exact approach, a bizarre mix of his Olympic pedigree and hands-on colloquial toughness, is the primary reason why an approximated 50,000 spectators will cram into Brisbane’s most iconic sporting venue to bare witness to the biggest pugilistic venture in Australian boxing history.
It may not be the quintessential style for the boxing purist, but that is exactly why Horn likes his chances on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s a mixture of fighting and boxing together, which I reckon makes the perfect style, which is what we’ve been working on,” he recited. “I think it’s the perfect time. I think I’ve excelled all my career, and why not now do it again?”
When listening to the quietly spoken Horn, it is difficult to entirely grasp the mountainous nature of his situation. Has he adequately prepared for such a Herculean challenge?
But as any humble Australian underdog would acknowledge, it’s about bringing your best to any given situation, while showing a willingness to go out on your shield regardless of circumstance. Horn realises that he must muster every iota of his best form to wrestle the WBO welterweight strap from Manny Pacquiao, as anything less is simply not enough.
“It’s so hard to prepare for someone like Manny, cause he throws so many punches and there’s no one really like him that’s brave enough to kinda throw caution into the wind sometimes, and just go all-out attack.” he concluded.
“I need to bring the fight to him as well, and he knows that.”
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