By Anthony Cocks
Jeff Horn 18-1-1 (12) will see his career come full circle when he takes on Anthony Mundine 48-8 (28) at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia this Friday night.
The 30-year-old former WBO welterweight champion first picked up the gloves in earnest after watching Mundine defuse the rugged challenge of West Australian tough guy Danny Green in their epic first encounter at Aussie Stadium in Sydney in 2006.
“It’s pretty cool and it’s kind of what attracted me to this fight in the first place,” revealed Horn in an exclusive interview with Maxboxing.
“I really wasn’t into boxing in my high school years and after I watched that big fight with Anthony Mundine and Danny Green it got me really into boxing. It was at the stage when I had just starting doing some self-defence in the gym.”
Despite the influence of the 43-year-old Sydneysider on his early career, Horn insists he will be looking to make a short night of it against Mundine in what will be his first fight back since losing his world title to gun American switch-hitter Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada in June.
“I think my awkward style will upset Mundine a little bit,” he said. “I’ve got youth on my side and a lot of energy to expend and I think that Mundine might have had enough of the look of me by the twelfth round in there – if it lasts that long.
“I think it’ll definitely be a high-pressure fight and if he wants to counter he’s going to be countering all night long.”
Mundine was last in action in January when he laid out former two-time world featherweight title challenger Tommy Browne with a brutal left hook at 2:59 of the second round of their middleweight contest at The Star Casino in Sydney.
The fight was competitive up until the stoppage, with Mundine looking substantially slower than he was in his prime.
It was the Sydney veteran’s first win in three fights after dropping a disputed 10-round points decision to old rival Green in Adelaide in February last year at a catchweight of 183-pounds and being stopped in 11 rounds by American 154-pound fringe contender Charles Hatley in Melbourne in November 2015.
With all the yo-yoing in weight, one school of thought is that Mundine will try to catch Horn off-guard and mug him in the early rounds of their 156.5-pound catchweight bout.
Horn maintains he is ready for any style of fight Mundine wants to bring to the ring.
“If he wants to come and ambush me, that’s fine,” said Horn. “But I’ll be wanting to switch it over on him quickly if he tries that. I’ll be ready to do the same back to him.
“I’m prepared to go 12 rounds at a high pace, so we will see if he is.”
The former Brisbane schoolteacher became a global name with his surprise 12-round unanimous decision win over former eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao at Suncorp Stadium in July last year.
In that fight Horn used foot and hand feints to good effect to disguise his true intentions and set up power shots from unexpected angles. It banked him enough of the early the rounds to put the Filipino superstar at a deficit halfway through the fight.
The superbly-conditioned Glenn Rushton-trained fighter had the fitness and stamina to withstand a last-stand assault from Pacquiao in the ninth round and finish over the top of the sure-fire future Hall of Famer in the championship rounds. The victory earned him the WBO welterweight world title.
After a successful world title defence against fringe contender Gary Corcoran of the UK last December, Horn headed to Las Vegas for his first fight in the United States against pound-for-pound rated fighter Crawford, who was making his debut at 147-pounds after previously claiming world championship honours at lightweight and unifying the junior welterweight division.
The feints that served him so well against Pacquaio were largely left back at home in Australia with Horn failing to show the variety in attack that made him so successful in his previous 19 professional bouts.
Horn admits as much as says that he will revert to form against Mundine.
“I’ve got use that pressure and fight with that broken-rhythm pressure style, as we call it in our gym,” Horn said. “I’ve got to keep him guessing and keep those feints up and not let him know when I’m coming.
“Feints are very important and it doesn’t matter if I tell him I’m going to feint at him – because I definitely am going to feint him – but he won’t know when the attack is going to come at him.”
Horn may just have another string to his bow in terms of the psychological battle.
The first and last time Horn fought at the Suncorp Stadium he overcame insurmountable odds to defeat Pacquiao in what was considered to be a major boilover at the time. And while Mundine is yet to box at the venue, he did play two games of rugby league there when he represented New South Wales in the State of Origin competition.
Horn’s record at Suncorp Stadium is 1-0. Mundine’s record is 0-1-1.
It is a record Horn wants to keep intact.
“Hopefully it brings back some memories for him that aren’t that great and he keeps his record and I keep mine,” said Horn.
“I want to keep that 100% record at Suncorp Stadium and do to him what I did against Manny Pacquiao last year.
“He can do what he’s done in the past and that’s a get another loss there – or at worst, no better than a draw.”