JEFF Horn is no stranger to world level competition.
Having captured a version of the welterweight crown, it came as a surprise to many when Horn requested to face unbeaten rival Tim Tszyu over ten rounds, instead of the traditional twelve.
When probed by leading broadcaster Ben Damon on his motivation to request a fight with Tszyu (15-0, 11 KOs) over a shorter distance, the 31-year-old offered a measured response.
“I’m giving up on a couple of things, but I’m also asking that it be ten rounds, not twelve,” Horn told the Main Event Boxing Podcast.
“It’s the same for both of us, no matter what. He just thinks that I think he can beat me over twelve, but not ten. Let’s see how confident he is, see if he can accept ten hard rounds.
“Look, if we’re probably fighting around mid-April, I feel like I need a little bit of extra time for a twelve round fight. Why fight twelve rounders if you don’t have to? That’s for world titles or basically to get a world title.”
Horn (20-2-1, 13 KOs) captured a pair of regional titles in his thrilling victory over Michael Zerafa in December. Despite opting to move down in weight, it’s probable that similar belts will be at stake against Tszyu.
Given the enormity of the fight — which will draw an interest beyond the titles on offer — Horn sees no reason to compete over the championship distance.
“There’s no reason for this to be a twelve round fight and the winner should be able to go on to a world title after,” he explained.
“I have no idea, I guess they want the experience of twelve rounds. They’ve done ten rounders, but I don’t know if they’ve done twelve yet. I guess they want that experience before they get a world title shot. That’s what they’ll probably get after this one.
“But I’m not interested in that, I’m only interested in a hard ten round fight. And then possibly a twelve round world title fight after that.”
The motivation couldn’t be more contrasting for the fast-rising Tszyu, who has developed at a prodigious rate since turning professional just three years ago.
Given the longevity of Horn’s run at world level, a crossing of paths was almost inevitable, according to the Rockdale-based star.
“It’s my opportunity. It’s the position that I want to be at, this is the one,” said Tszyu.
“When he beat Pacquiao, that’s when I said to my manager Glen, ‘this fight has to happen. I know I can beat him’ — I’ve been silent, but I’ve been on my own path doing my own things.”
With the promoters of both fighters coming to an agreement over the weekend, the stars have finally aligned for a fight that will do blockbuster numbers domestically.
“This is what I’ve been born for, my whole life for this particular moment,” Tszyu added.
“He’s a former world champion, a superstar in Australia. When I started boxing, I wanted to become the king. Not just of the super welterweight division, but boxing in Australia.
“He’s got that toughness, and he’s got that rugged style in him. I’ve always wanted to test myself, and to be able to have a fight against someone like him.
“The time has finally come that both of our paths meet.”
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