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Fenech backs Horn to upset Pacquiao

By Anthony Cocks


Pac vs. Horn Photo by Martys Knockout Photography
Pac vs. Horn Photo by Martys Knockout Photography

First ballot Hall of Famer Jeff Fenech has come out in support of Jeff Horn, saying that he believes “one million percent” that the 29-year-old Brisbane schoolteacher can spring the upset when he challenges Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao for his WBO welterweight title at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia on July 2 local time.

 

“The Marrickville Mauler”, widely regarded as Australia’s greatest ever boxer, says that a win for Horn will be one of the biggest victories in Australia’s rich pugilistic history.

 

“This could be the fight to put boxing back on the map in this country,” Fenech told News Corp. “Just like Rocky did with his movies. It’s a wonderful story.”

 

Fenech, who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2002, retired with a record of 29-3-1 (21) and world championships across three separate weight divisions. His success was largely predicated on his superior fitness and workrate that saw him overcome brittle hands to break down his opponents with his tremendous volume punching and ring generalship.

 

In Horn, Fenech sees some of the same attributes that saw him win world title at bantamweight, super bantamweight and featherweight in the mid- to late-eighties.

 

“He’s got a great engine and he’ll give it a great shot,” Fenech said. “I honestly believe he can win the fight – one million percent, and it will be an amazing feat.

 

“He’s just got to fight the right fight.

 

“We’ve all got two arms and two legs. Manny hasn’t knocked out anyone for a long time.

 

“Jeff is stronger and busier. He gets hit a bit but if he can nullify that, it will become the real Rocky story. He’s got that self-belief.

 

“You look at the last Mundine-Green fight. They could hardly land a punch on each other.

 

“This one should be a tremendous fight. I’ve got a very good feeling it’s going to happen (a victory for Horn) and it would be massive for boxing in this country.

 

“If he wins it’s bigger than my win over Azumah Nelson.”

 

Since turning professional a little over four years ago, Horn has supplemented his boxing training with strength and conditioning work with Korean-born fitness coach Dundee Kim to increase his upper body strength in his chest, shoulders and back.

 

Against Pacquiao, Horn will need to be in tiptop physical shape for what promises to be a gruelling contest that goes deep into the late rounds.

 

“We have achieved what we wanted physically,” Kim said to News Corp. “Jeff has the muscle mass and the conditioning but also the speed.

 

“We worked a lot on his fast-twitch muscles and his reactions with punching pad work. Putting together really fast combinations. We’ve worked on building a boxer who punches very fast but with a lot of power.

 

“Jeff is very strong. He has great footwork. He’s moving really well and his right hand and left hook are tremendous. One good punch on the chin from him and Manny Pacquiao is out. Manny is a great boxer and we can’t underestimate him. But we know Jeff has worked much harder than him for this fight.”

 

Team Horn are convinced that at 38 years old Pacquiao hasn’t got the same will and determination to put himself through the sort of punishing training camp that Horn has been subjected to in the lead up to the biggest fight of seventeen bout professional career.

 

And after 22 years in the punch-for-pay ranks, they question whether Pacquiao 59-6-2 (38) has the legs to keep up with the pace they plan to set on Sunday afternoon.

 


Pac vs. Horn Photo by Martys Knockout Photography
Pac vs. Horn Photo by Martys Knockout Photography

“I believe I can do this and I know my preparation has been spot on,” Horn, 16-0-1 (11), said to News Corp.  “I know Manny hasn’t been training with the same intensity as me.  He’s had huge success over twenty years and after a while that can make you less hungry.  I have everything I need to win this fight and bring the world welterweight title to Australia.”

 

The likeable Horn, with his boyish good looks, ready smile and affable personality, doesn’t fit the stereotype many people have in mind when they think of prizefighters, but looks can be deceiving.

 

“When I get in the ring I’m a different person,” said Horn.  “You have to be ruthless and get rid of your opponent as quickly as possible.”

 

Horn never planned on being a boxer.  When he walked into trainer Glenn Rushton’s gym 11 years ago, professional boxing wasn’t even on his radar.  The skinny kid from the suburbs was looking to learn self-defence after getting bullied at school.

 

“It was all about self-defence,” said Horn.  “I didn’t want to be a fighter.  It was to learn how to protect myself, for a bit of confidence outside in normal life.”

 

Rushton saw something in Horn though, something he could work on.

 

“Toughness isn’t about how many tattoos you’ve got or how you act or how big you talk,” Rushton said to News Corp.  “It comes from belief in yourself and Jeff has developed that through a positive focus and years of hard physical and mental training.”

 

Now, with the fight of his life less than a week away, Horn is chomping at the bit to show the world what he has got.

 

“I’ve overcome every tough challenge he’s given me and now I’m jumping out of my skin for the biggest challenge of my life,” said the 2012 Australian Olympian.

 

Boxing is a sport that revolves around the changing of the guard.  And on Sunday afternoon in front of an estimated 55,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium, Horn will have his opportunity to stake his claim as the best 147-pound fighter in the world.

 



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