By Anthony Cocks
In a rough and tumble, bloody 12 round battle Jeff Horn 18-0-1 (12) retained his WBO welterweight title with an 11th round stoppage of Gary Corcoran 17-2 (7) after the fight was stopped on cuts. Blood was flowing into Corocran’s eyes from a pair of cuts that affected his vision, forcing his corner to throw in the towel with Horn comfortably ahead by scores of 99-91 twice and 100-90.
The fight was more competitive than the scorecards suggested.
"I felt my timing was a bit off but I got him in the end," said Horn. "The whole fight I felt I was a little bit off tonight.
"I knew he was coming here prepared. They were talking a smart game... They definitely pushed me in there."
English traveller Corcoran, 27, got off to a fast start, giving as good as he got in the opening four rounds at the Brisbane Entertainment and Convention Centre. Despite all the talk of Horn being a dirty fighter it was Corcoran who was warned for an accidental headclash and rabbit punches in the early going.
In a fast-paced fifth round Horn was able to wrest control, snapping Corcoran’s head back with an uppercut and following it up with a short right cross.
It was revealled before the fight that Horn was cut in sparring a fortnight out from the bout and received eight stitches to close the wound above his left eye. Corcoran zeroed in on Horn’s left eye and opened up the cut in the sixth, but was also cut himself in the same round. Both boxers returned to their corners with their faces splashed in blood at the halfway mark of the fight.
Corcoran was warned again at the end of the seventh for punching after the bell, while Horn started to figure out a way through the challenger’s awkward defence in the eigthth round.
With Corcoran still hanging in there, Horn rallied to win the ninth while in the tenth the defending champion force-fed Corcoran a series of debilitating shots to the body and head.
After being forced to lose close to nine pounds to make weight in the 24 hours before the official weigh-in, there was a school of thought that Horn would wilt as the rounds progressed. That was not the case, with Horn getting stronger in the later rounds. Horn was putting Corcoran to the sword in the eleventh when the visitor’s corner threw in the towel to stop the fight in the 11th due to the cuts suffered by Corcoran.
Corcoran was unhappy with the stoppage but admitted after the fight that he was struggling to see because of the blood flowing into his eyes.
"Too many cuts. Fair play to Jeff, he is a good fighter," said Corcoran.
"I’ll be back to learn from it. I’ll come again.
"I wasn’t really hurt in the fight, I just couldn’t see."
With the win the 29-year-old Aussie will likely head into an April showdown with WBO mandatory contender and former undisputed 140-pound champion Terrence Crawford in the United States.
IBF #7 featherweight Nathaniel May 19-1 (11) broke down previously undefeated Brazilian Aelio Mesquita 16-1 (14) with a savage body attack dropping him twice in the fourth round before finishing him off with a liver shot in the fifth to claim the vacant WBO Asia Pacific title.
Super middleweight Rohan Murdock 21-1 (15) comprehensively outboxed Apti Ustarkhanov 15-3-3 (5) of Russia over 10 rounds by scores of 99-91, 97-93 and 100-90. Murdock picks up the vacant WBO Oriental title with the win.
Female bantamweight Shannon O’Connell 16-6-1 (8) stopped Sumalee Thongpootorn 8-8-1 of Thailand in the first round. The stoppage appeared premature.
Talented super featherweight Paul Fleming 25-0 (17) stopped Filipino Virgil Puton 17-9 (8) in three rounds.
Former heavyweight world title challenger Alex Leapai 31-7-4 (25) had his fight against Roger Izonritei 12-6-1 (11) cut short after an accidental clash of heads opened a cut over Izonritei’s left eye in the third resulting in a technical draw.
Junior welterweight contender Leonardo Zappavigna 37-3 (27) halted Nestor Faccio Cordozo 16-9-2 (9) in the third round after dropping the Uruguayan a number of times.