THE vast majority of the boxing world see Jeff Horn as the weak link amongst the reigning titleholders at welterweight.
The division currently boasts an abundance of world class operators, including undefeated American dynamo Keith Thurman, who holds the WBC and WBA crowns, alongside the long touted star-in-the-making Errol Spence, who is the outright owner of the IBF strap.
For that reason, there is a long winding list of willing candidates that are queueing up to face the Australian since he upset eight-division titleholder and future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao in July. However, respected pundit and former two-division world champion Paulie Malignaggi believes Horn is being wrong labelled as a weak link.
“I keep hearing Jeff Horn really downplayed. Maybe I’m the idiot, but I think this guy is better than people think, I’ve been saying that,” said Malignaggi on the latest episode of The Magic Hour podcast. “He beat Manny Pacquiao, I watched him on the way up, cause I remember I was going to fight him. He’s got a rugged style and he’s really good rhythm breaker, he’s really mentally strong. A guy like that breaks you down so much.”
The 27-year-old Brooklyn native is widely regarded as the best colour commentator in the sport for his unique ability to accurately break down fights and articulate the varying fighting styles in constituent detail, which he does for US cable giant Showtime and UK television outlet Sky Sports.
When assessing the styles of Horn (18-0-1, 12 KOs) and rumoured opponent Terence Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) – who many see as one of the best combatants in the consensus pound-for-pound ratings – Malignaggi believes that records aside, there is so much more to look at than the numbers on paper and the fighters individual skill-sets, paying particular attention to their difference in size.
“If you’re just looking at it on skills alone, you’re not going to be impressed. But there’s a lot of intangible things that Horn does, and as a fighter, you realise this,” he continued. “If you’re not a fighter, you don’t realise it. Horn has a lot of intangibles that will break you, they break your will to win, they break you mentally. They break you physically because he’s roughing you up.”
“I don’t think Crawford is a guaranteed win against Horn. I think you’re going to have a very competitive fight in that fight. You gotta understand that Crawford’s natural weight when he turned professional was lightweight. If you have a natural weight fight where you have a lightweight version of Jeff Horn and they’re fighting Crawford, then I say Crawford.”
“But because of the size, the natural size advantage that Horn has, that physicality that he’s going to bring to the table is going to bother someone like Crawford more because he can’t match it. The ring is square and the pressure comes at such a high volume that you’re going to be body-to-body.”
“Horn has a very good idea of who he is and who he’s not, and I love that. He’s a blue collar guy, but he’s not a nice blue collar guy. He’s a rough and rugged guy in there. He can fight. He’s not the best natural boxer, but the kid can flat-out fight.”
“I think Crawford will take his talent up to every weight class. As far as matching your natural size, it gets harder and harder as you move up in weight.”
Malignaggi also noted that a touted April collision between Horn and Crawford may work against the Australian if it does take place on US soil. Given the heavy investment and promotional push that Crawford has received from his promoter Top Rank, Malignaggi sees a competitive fight falling in the American’s favour. With that said, Malignaggi still expects a seesawing contest between the two unbeaten welterweights.
“But people think that a Horn fight is the weak link at welterweight, but he’s not,” he explained. “There isn’t a weak link at welterweight, and Horn isn’t an easy out for anybody, I’m telling you. If they bring Horn to the US, anything remotely close of a fight, Crawford’s going to get the fight if it goes the distance.”
“What I’m saying is that the fight’s a good fight, and that it’s competitive. I think Top Rank are looking to make that fight next for Horn, which is a rumour, I think it’s going to be a fun fight, I think it’s going to be a good fight, I think it’s going to be entertaining and competitive.”
“No shame if Crawford were to lose, but it’d be a shame if Horn were robbed,” he concluded. “I think in a close fight he would not get the decision because Crawford is trying to be built as the Mayweather type fighter. I think Crawford is amazing, I think he’s a really good fighter and he might outright win the fight.”
“But I don’t think even if he outright wins the fight, that it’s going to be that easy.”
Listen to episodes of The Magic Hour with Paulie Malignaggi here.
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