Unfortunately Saturday night was a tough night for us – but I just can’t thank our supporters enough for their kind words.
Boxers are a tough bunch – but we’re still human and rest assured, we still hurt. I personally haven’t had a lot of sleep since the fight and feel the pain deeply when any of my boxers lose.
As most trainers know, your boxers become your extended family and there is an incredible bond between boxers and their trainers. Congrats to Joe Goodall and Andrew Hunt, who I thought were unlucky not to get the wins, with both having to settle for a draw.
Thankfully, they both maintain their unbeaten records. Both have very bright futures.
I have copped considerable flack about the stoppage in Jeff’s fight and I certainly understand why people would say that and of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I think it’s only fair given the chatter that I explain my actions.
When Jeff went down late in the ninth round, which was from a combination of punches, some pushing by Michael and Jeff reaching for a tired clinch, he looked both hurt and fatigued and I thought the referee would stop the fight.
If he didn’t, I fully intended to, which is why I stood up on the ring apron.
It is customary these days now not to throw in the towel (as sometimes they are not seen by the referee) but simply to attract the attention of the referee by either waving your hands or a towel in order to attract the referee’s attention to stop the fight.
When I got to the ropes, Jeff was getting up from the canvas and put his left hand down, which slipped on the canvas, causing him to fall back towards the ground.
He then got to his feet and was wobbly for a couple of seconds. I was about to stop the fight at that point and asked him if he was okay but he then straightened up and put his hands on his hips, facing the referee, looking more fatigued than hurt.
He steadied on his feet during the rest of the count. I could not see his eyes as he had his back to me, whereas the referee was looking directly at him. As the referee continued the count, Jeff stabilised his balance and took four steps towards the referee and did not stumble during any of these steps.
Again, I could not see his eyes – but the referee could.
At that point, with less than a minute to go in the round, the referee walked closely to Jeff, looked him right in the eyes and asked him if he was okay. Jeff nodded his head and raised his hands indicating he was okay to continue.
He looked steady on his feet and I made the split-second decision that the referee was in a better position (in front of Jeff and looking directly at him) to make the call as to whether he was fit to continue, as from my viewpoint (looking directly at the back of Jeff’s head) all I could see was that Jeff looked steady on his feet.
The decision I had to make was – am I the best person to make this call, or is the referee? Both of us want to protect the fighter – but who has the better vantage point/information to make that call? Remember that these decisions are critical as there is a lot at stake, with the primary concern of course being the safety of the boxer.
Remember that these decisions are made in real time with no foreknowledge of the future.
I understand that everyone is an expert with the benefit of hindsight, however, had Jeff circled or clinched Michael and survived the last 36 seconds of the round, who knows what would have happened once he had a full minute to recover.
Or what if Michael rushed in to finish Jeff and Jeff delivered a stunning right hand to knock Michael out. It’s happened many times in boxing history. We all saw what Jeff did after nine rounds with Pacquiao.
After literally being out on his feet in the ninth, he recovered in a minute to win the fight. Had I thrown the towel in that day, we would have missed one of the greatest comebacks in boxing history, which has triggered a major resurgence in Australian boxing.
All boxers in Australia should thank Jeff Horn for what he has done, both inside and outside of the ring.
He is a great Australian and whatever he chooses to do about his future, I’ll support his decision, one hundred percent.
Yes, it was a tough call on Saturday night, and given the benefit now of the eventual outcome, yes, I wish I would have stopped the fight – but I did what I thought was right at the time, based on all of the information I had at my disposal.
Rest assured, I was calm, focused and calculating everything I could at lightning speed. Further, I had Jeff’s father on the steps asking me to stop the fight and Jeff’s brother Ben on my right. There was a lot going on but the final decision was in the hands of the referee and myself.
Since the fight, I have apologised to Jeff, Jo, his Mum and Dad, sister and Ben. It still hurts.
Please don’t blame any other members of the corner team, as it wasn’t their call and they have nothing to apologise for. They all did their jobs well, as they always do.
For those who think it was obvious Jeff couldn’t win at that point, please remember when Tyson Fury lay motionless on the canvas for five seconds before springing to his feet and walking away with a draw against Deontay Wilder.
Muhammad Ali, who was beaten mercilessly by George Foreman on the ropes for round after round before knocking him out.
I could cite hundreds of cases where boxes have snatched victory from what appeared to be certain defeat. That’s what makes boxing so exciting – anything can and does happen. Personally, I know what Jeff is capable of and I would hate to see him go out like this.
If he prepares right, he can beat anyone. It has been an honour to know and train him and I hope he finds the motivation to continue.
Words: Glenn Rushton
Image: Getty Images