By John J. Raspanti
Jeff Horn is the Rodney Dangerfield of boxing. You remember Dangerfield who claimed “I get no respect at all.”
Horn is a 30-year-old Aussie former teacher who’s undefeated in 18 fights, scoring 12 knockouts. He captured the WBO welterweight title last year by winning a contentious, 12-round unanimous decision over future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao in Queensland, Australia.
According to CompuBox Stats, Pacquiao landed 90 more punches than Horn. He out-jabbed him, cut him, and almost knocked him down in round nine.
Horn showed durability and determination withstanding the Pacquiao onslaught to rally in the last couple of rounds, but not enough to win the fight on most scorecards (I had Pacquiao winning by two points)
Pacquiao demanded a rematch. Horn said fine. Feeling he was jobbed by the judges, Pacquiao wanted the rematch to go down in the Philippines. Problem was, Paquiao’s own promoter, the bombastic Bob Arum, disagreed, saying the second go around should again be in the "Land Down Under." Pacquiao balked, Arum stood firm, and just like that, the match fell through the proverbial cracks.
Horn moved on. Thrilled by his “victory,” he soaked it up, bathing in the praise of his countrymen. Nobody gave him much of a chance against Pacquiao—so even if the decision was controversial-- and it was--the record book would forever show him winning the fight. Horn returned to the ring last December against one Gary Corcoran, whose ability didn’t match his record of 17 wins in 18 contests. Horn dominated from the opening bell, cutting and pounding Corcoran until the referee waved off the fight.
For his efforts, Horn would next defend his WBO title against a fighter whose record is not a mirage.
Terence Crawford is undefeated in 32 fights. He’s won 23 of them by knockout. Crawford won the lightweight championship in 2014 when he defeated Ricky Burns in Glasgow, Scotland. A year later, he picked up the WBO junior welterweight title by knocking out Thomas Dulorme in six one-sided rounds. Seven successful defenses later, Crawford unified the junior welterweight division by stopping Julius Indongo last year.
With no challenges left in the 140-pound division, Crawford moved up a weight class to welterweight.
His first fight will be against WBO welterweight king Horn June 9 at MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas,NV.
The verbal jousting between the Horn and Crawford camps has been amusing. Talk is cheap. Horn is confident that he can defeat the heavily favored Crawford.
“I’m not scared of this guy,” Horn told Fox Sports. “You have to be confident in boxing. If you go in there thinking you’re going to lose, then that’s exactly what will happen. I’ll be pushing hard, pressuring him throughout the fight. I’ll be thinking about my family, about my wife and daughter, going to the places that lift me when I need to dig deep.”
Boxer Ray Robinson, who defeated Crawford in the amateurs, believes that Horn can win.
“Anyone can sit behind a desk and say someone is going to win,” Robinson told Grantlee Kieza. “No one really knows how Terence Crawford’s going to react when Jeff hits him.He’s faster and sneakier than a lot of people think. (Crawford’s) not super strong, just very accurate.
Not surprisingly, Crawford’s coach Brian McIntyre has a different take on will happen next week in Vegas.
“All my fighters have that attitude of wanting to kill and destroy – seek and destroy because we come from nothing,’’ said McIntyre, according to Courier Mail. The pressures on Horn but I don’t give a damn where the pressure’s at because Horn’s still getting his ass whipped.”
Former welterweight champion Randall Baily, who lost to Horn two years ago, believes that Crawford’s firepower will hurt Horn.
“I think Crawford has too much artillery for Horn,” said Baily.
Confidence is one thing, but skill overrides it on most occasions. Horn will be facing a guy whose faster, more athletic, and is just as determined. Crawford is slippery and can be hard to hit solid. He’ll switch between orthodox and southpaw to keep Horn off balance.
Horn is a strong fighter—who will bull his way inside and try to get as physical as possible with Crawford. He’ll grab, push, and maul. Crawford, who seems to fight angry at times, will fire back—giving Horn a chance to counter. Maybe he’ll hurt Crawford with a shot.
Since Crawford is moving up in weight it could happen. But what will likely transpire is that Crawford will play surgeon to Horn’s patient, carving him up and winning by stoppage inside of nine rounds. Horn’s determination and grit could force Crawford to go the full 12, but no matter which way you slice it, Crawford will win.
A loss will probably give Horn the respect he deserves.
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