Jeff Horn celebrates his victory over Manny Pacquiao at Suncorp Stadium last year. Picture: Getty Images
Jeff Horn celebrates his victory over Manny Pacquiao at Suncorp Stadium last year. Picture: Getty Images

The one motivation Horn needs to shock the world

THE world's bookmakers will tell you that Brisbane's Jeff Horn has as much chance of beating American challenger Terence Crawford at New York's Madison Square Garden on April 15 as a three-legged horse in the Melbourne Cup.

But our world champ says his three-week-old baby Isabelle is all the motivation he needs to score another stunning upset on the world stage.

Horn is set to follow his massive victory over Manny Pacquiao at Suncorp Stadium on July 2 with a defence of his World Boxing Organization welterweight title against the American many regard as the world's best fighter.

Crawford is so tough he once won a major fight only a few weeks after being shot in the back of the head with a 9mm pistol.

The fight underlines the incredible journey from a timid, geeky teenager who first ventured into a boxing gym to learn self-defence in 2006 because he was being targeted by bullies. He had his first amateur fight in 2008 and was such an instant hit he made the quarter-finals of the London Olympics four years later.

But he was largely unknown as he punched his way through the professional ranks over the next four years while at the same working part-time as a relief school teacher around Brisbane. He is such a modest champion that his personal Facebook page "JC Horn'' still lists his profession as "relief teacher'' even though he is now the undefeated world welterweight boxing champion.

 

Jeff Horn and wife Jo with their first child, Isabelle. Picture: Tertius Pickard/AP
Jeff Horn and wife Jo with their first child, Isabelle. Picture: Tertius Pickard/AP

And while the mild-mannered Horn is as much as a $9 underdog with some online bookmakers, Crawford's American promoter Bob Arum says regardless of who wins the New York superfight, Suncorp Stadium could host a rematch if it proves to be a thrilling battle.

Horn, his wife Jo and baby Isabelle are likely to arrive in New York two weeks before fight time.

"I can't fight without Jo and Isabelle by my side,'' Horn told The Courier-Mail in an exclusive interview last night after jumping off the treadmill in the back shed of his modest Acacia Ridge home.

"I'm not going to change my routine even if the fight is on the other side of the world. Jo came with me when I had my very first amateur fight at the Acacia Ridge Hotel in 2008 and we've been a terrific team all these years.

"Crawford is a great boxer, a good puncher and slick. But I'm bigger and I hit harder so I'm confident I can do Queensland and Australia proud.''

Horn faces one major handicap for the fight, though, as his trainer Glenn Rushton has four of his other boxers involved in a major fight card in Brisbane on April 7 and Horn may have to train in New York for a few days without the man who first taught him to throw a punch 12 years ago.

The world champ said he could have played safe and picked up an easy $2 million by battering Anthony Mundine but his whole career has been about defying the odds and facing the best in the world.

He will earn well in excess of that $2 million against Crawford but against a vastly more dangerous fighter than Mundine.

The slick and slippery American, from the mid-west city of Omaha, Nebraska, is undefeated in 32 fights, is a former world lightweight (61kg) champion and the only man since Australian great Kostya Tszyu to unify the super-lightweight (63.5kg) division. He will face Horn at the 66.68kg welterweight limit.

In September 2008, Crawford was shot in the back of the head after a late-night dice game under a streetlight in Omaha. He recovered to win his fifth pro fight a few weeks later.

Horn says he knows exactly how tough Crawford will be but that living on the edge makes him feel alive.

"I like proving people wrong,'' Horn says about the fight that will likely make him a huge star in the US, the world's biggest boxing market.

"Ever since I started boxing I've wanted to fight the very best. People have always written me off. Most people thought Manny Pacquiao was going to destroy me but they all got a big shock.

"I'm a huge underdog for this fight but that only makes me more determined to show what I can do. With Jo and Isabelle I have all the motivation I need to provide them with a great future by beating Crawford in his own country at the most famous boxing stadium in the world.''

Joe Frazier knocks down Muhammad Ali during their first world heavyweight boxing championship fight at Madison Square Garden in 1971. Picture: Getty Images
Joe Frazier knocks down Muhammad Ali during their first world heavyweight boxing championship fight at Madison Square Garden in 1971. Picture: Getty Images

Horn has already started light training but will begin his preparations in earnest on January 29 at Rushton's Stretton gym.

He was set to face Crawford on April 21 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas but because of a clash of dates with the Las Vegas National Hockey League team the Golden Knights, promoter Arum made the change of date and venue.

Madison Square Garden, in mid-town Manhattan, is the spiritual home of big-time boxing. With a seating capacity nudging 20,000 it was the venue for such great battles as the first two Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fights and the first Lennox Lewis-Evander Holyfield battle. It has been a boxing graveyard for Australians, though, in recent years with Queensland's Darren Obah and Sydney's Daniel Geale and Kali Meehan all being stopped there in major battles.



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