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Arizona Boxing News & Notes with Don Smith: Q & A with Jeff Horn, Rumor Misleads Public & More

Boxing Fans, It?s official, Australian welterweight Jeff Horn will fight boxing legend Manny Pacquiao on April 23rd and that?s all we actually know for now. Horn and his promoter (Duco Events) are championing for Suncorp Stadium (Brisbane, Australia) to be the venue; but at least six additional locations (2 in the Middle East) have been bandied about in the press.

Top Rank CEO Bob Arum is on record as favoring Australia; but, that could mean a three city bidding confrontation between Melbourne, Sidney and Brisbane. Remember, in 2015, 56,000 packed Melbourne?s Etihad Stadium to watch Holly Mims defeat Rhonda Rousey in a clash of UFC female titans. Suncorp Stadium holds 52,500 according to our research while the facility in Sydney holds a mere 21,000 in comparison. Disregard Boxing Society?s posting of the event as set for Brisbane on 4/22 at Suncorp Stadium; why they listed the incorrect info is unfortunate. The online column is usually accurate-not this time!

The bottom line according to Pacquiao?s Canadian advisor Michael Koncz is whoever offers the ?best financial package for Manny? hosts the event. Of course, it seems logical that Mr. Koncz would enter the conversation since he is expected to share a slice of that financial pie directly or indirectly.

The smell of money always brings an added element to the table and although this fight isn?t on the scale of Mayweather versus Pacquiao, we are talking about Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao, the fighting Senator from the Philippines who may someday run for President of his homeland where he is a hero to fight fans and ordinary Filipino citizens.

In unknown category, we don?t know who will televise the event. First, there was a printed rumor that it would be aired on free TV and then not surprisingly out of the mosh pit of rumors, word is that it will be a PPV event. The cost wasn?t included in the circulated rumor.

I contacted Top Rank for more info on the event and didn?t get out of the batter?s box with a hint of new information. Instead, I was politely told that more details would be forthcoming at the appropriate time. It is my prediction that this fight will generate a ton of publicity and a lot of it will be directed towards Jeff Horn in a negative way. Already we are reading and hearing that Horn is a mediocre fighter who doesn?t deserve a shot at Pacquiao?s WBO welterweight title belt and in the words of former U.S.A. Vice President Joe Biden, that?s just pure ?Malarkey?.

For the record, Horn is ranked # 2 welterweight in the world by the WBO. His amateur record includes reaching the quarterfinals in the 2012 London Olympics, a feat unattained by most American Olympic qualifiers in recent years and his professional record stands at 16 victories, 0 defeats with one draw. He avenged that draw verdict with Rivan Cesiire by knocking out the fighter from Cameroon in the 9th round of their WBO Oriental Welterweight Title contest on March 19th, 2014. He has been knocked down twice in his professional career in contrast to Manny?s several times and Pacquiao has been counted out three times in a pro career that spans more than 20 years.

Australia has produced many championship quality fighters including Jeff Harding, Jeff Fench, Kostya Tszyu, Anthony Mundine, Lionel Rose, Michael Barry, Vic Darchinyan and Danny Green-just a few of the premier boxers who chalked up remarkable career while fighting out of Australia. Horn hopes to make that exclusive list with a victory over the boxing icon when they meet on April 23rd. Manny was quoted recently (Bad Left Hook) telling the online publication he had never heard of Jeff Horn; but, he liked the idea of fighting in Australia-stirring up your opponent can have dire consequences.

Upsets in boxing happen frequently and although the fighting Senator deserves to be an overwhelming favorite to the beat the former school teacher, ?it?s not over until it?s over? according to the wise adage coined by the late Yogi Berra. Please, excuse the baseball metaphor, MLB spring training is just around the corner and Arizona is the home for baseball?s Cactus League.

ABNN was eager to converse with the Australian underdog, so we dispatched a request to Craig Stanaway (Duco Events) and he was gracious enough to pass on our emailed questions to the 28 year old who will celebrate birthday # 29 on February 4th. We wish him an early Happy Birthday and many more to come. Mr. Stanaway also forwarded questions to newly crowned WBO Heavyweight Champion Joseph Parker Jr; and we expect to print his responses in our next column if the champ has time to respond. We promised Mr. Horn we wouldn?t distort or edit his answers and we complied although we did tighten one of our questions that we thought rambled on a bit.

ABNN: Rugby and Cricket are very popular sports in your country; did you ever participate in either game?

JH: I played a lot of Rugby League when I was younger and it was a tossup whether to

Continue with it or do boxing. I guess in the end boxing won.

ABNN: Why would a teacher leave an academic life and launch a boxing career?

JH: I loved teaching but I don?t regret leaving it. Financially I?m better off boxing so in that sense it was the right decision. I always wanted to be a professional sports person so I guess I?m fulfilling my dream.

ABNN: Did your family think that you had gone over the deep end when you became a fulltime boxer and do you regret the decision to leave teaching?

JH: Not at all. They fully support me.

ABNN: Is it true that you were the victim of bullying as a youngster and took up boxing for self-defense or did some imaginative PR person concoct the idea as a storyline for publication?

JH: Ha-ha, no it is a true story. I was a little nerdy in school and got picked on and lost a couple of fights so I made the decision to learn boxing as a way of self-defense and the rest I suppose is history.

ABNN: Any prior boxers in your family?

JH: Both of my grandfathers had a bit of go when they were younger but nothing too serious. It?s not really in my family?s blood.

ABNN: You reached the quarterfinals in the 2012 Olympics in London; what was that experience like?

JH: It was one of the best feelings in my life representing Australia and one I will never forget. It made me want to continue boxing even more.

ABNN: Two years ago, you suffered a serious hand injury that required surgery; have you made any changes in how you wrap your hands and were you concerned that your career might be over at the time?

JH: I never thought my career was over but we did change how I wrap my hands. Some people don?t like putting too much wrapping so they hit harder, but with my hands wrapped properly, I?ve proved I can still knock people out.

ABNN: What would a win over Manny Pacquiao do for the sport of boxing in your homeland-would it knock the Brisbane Times coverage of Rugby and Tennis off the front page of the sports section?

JH: The announcement of the fight has already been the lead story in the sports section of the newspaper. Who knows how they woluld cover it if I won. I?m guessing it would be pretty big.

ABNN: Critics of your upcoming fight with Pac-Man say 17 professional fights (16-0-1) isn?t enough for you to earn the right to challenge a future Hall of fame boxer (59-6-2-38 knockouts)?.what is your response to claims that your boxing resume is thin?

JH: I would say that I have fought and beaten 10 top 15 opponents in 17 professional fights and I?m unbeaten. From the moment I turned professional, the record proves I?ve never taken easy fights. I?ve also proven I can I can get knocked down, recover and win. Now this opportunity comes along, I would be foolish not to take it wouldn?t I?

ABNN: Will you maintain an aggressive straight ahead attack against Manny or we see more lateral movement from you during the contest?will we see any surprises?

JH: It will depend how I go. I know I can change the way I move if I need to. It just depends how the fight goes.
ABNN: Your government and your own team are pushing for the April 23 event to be held at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia. Will it happen there and what is the deadline for getting the venue selected?

JH: I really hope it will be there. It is a stadium I?ve walked past many times as a kid and I?ts iconic in Australia. I?m really hoping it will be there it would be amazing. Even Manny has said he wants to come so it would be a great occasion. There?s not a bad seat in the stadium.

ABNN: If the venue isn?t in Australia-will you be crushed?

JH: Sure I would be disappointed but I would have to move on very quickly and re-focus on the job at hand.

According to published reports, Top Rank Boxing (Manny?s Promoter) is already looking beyond 4/23 ?does it show a bit of disrespect towards you?what is your take?

JH: Yes it does, but it doesn?t concern me. I?ve just got to make sure that I put on the best performance I can on April 23. My last opponent Ali Funeka talked about what he was going to do after he beat me and I told him it was a mistake. It proved to be the case and I knocked him out. That?s over confidence. You?ve got to go into a fight feeling confident in yourself but you can?t be overconfident. Otherwise, you can embarrass yourself. I never look past my next fight.

ABNN: Other than confidence, what is in your boxing arsenal that will help you defeat Pacquiao and do you believe in the old boxing adage: ?To defeat a champion, you have to knock him or her out to win their title??

JH: I don?t believe you have to knock out a champion to win their title. You?ve just got to outbox them but I understand what you mean by taking the judges out of the equation. But no, you can a title without knocking the champion out.

ABNN: Have you ever met Senator/champion boxer Emmanuel ?Manny? Dapidran Pacquiao and what would you say to the boxing icon three months before the biggest fight in your life, thus far?

JH: No, I have not met him. I would say train hard and keep training hard. I promise you I?m training hard and I will give you a good tough fight. It?s something for us both to look forward to.

ABNN: How do you rate Pacquiao?s power?

JH: Pretty good, he?s gone up and down so many weight divisions and still been able to knock people out. Now obviously he hasn?t knocked out people recently but none of us know why that is. Is he just happy to outbox them, did the opening not arrive, or has he lost some power? None of know the answer to that question. You don?t go looking for a knockout so it?s hard to say if he?s lost power. He certainly knows how to fight!

ABNN: Our readers are grateful for your responses to our questions, thank you very much and good luck.

False Rumor: It is our sad duty to report that 2-3 persons have taken to the internet to falsely report that Roy Jones Jr. Promotions canceled their scheduled Celebrity Theatre boxing show on January 27 in Phoenix. The rumor is a fabrication coming from sources that apparently like to yak on social media and telling the truth isn?t part of their social consciousness.

A little background: ABNN received a call from a local boxing fan and reader of this column, late night on (1/19) who said he had heard the rumor and was checking to see if the Celebrity show was still on and I told him I would find the answer and I asked him to call back the next day. Immediately, I began to call people in the know and leave messages, no one was available. Not the commission or the PIO at the Arizona Gaming Department.

On Friday (1/20) I contacted Lisa Veltre, Vice President of Operations for Roy Jones Jr. Fight Academy. Ms. Veltre also serves as co-coordinator of the RJJ boxing shows and she sounded peeved upon hearing that someone was sabotaging the upcoming show by lying about the sttus of the show.

She asked if I knew who it was and I told her, I didn?t know the originator of the rumor. And even if I did, my responsibility would be to report my source to the Arizona Boxing/MMA Commission and they in turn would decide on what to tell the victim, in this case the promoter.

For example, last year I received two telephoned death threats and after reporting them to the Phoenix Police Department, I called the commission and reported both scary incidents. One of the perpetrators was called into the commission office and reprimanded while the other person checked into a drug rehabilitation center for help.

I don?t like to spend my time addressing stupid stuff; but, spreading lies that endanger the livelihood of someone is pretty darn serious. I apologize on behalf of the state of
Arizona to any promoter who has to put up such juvenile behavior and perhaps the commission can address the issue.

RJJ Show: The official weigh-In for the Celebrity Theatre Show is scheduled for Thursday 1/26 at the El Portal Restaurant, 5 pm. The establishment at 117 Grant Avenue) is owned by Earl and Mary Rose Wilcox. She used to sit on the Arizona Boxing Commission and he served then Governor Janet Napolitano in an advisory capacity. Tickets are priced at $24.- $44. - $79.00 and available at the Celebrity Theatre box-office which is located off 32nd Street approximately 250 yards South of Van Buren in Phoenix. First fight starts at 7 p.m. While the main doors open promptly at 6 p.m. the club downstairs opens at 5 p.m. for the thirsty minded.

Boxing Card: In the Main Event, Texan John Vera will defend his WBA NABA USA Super welterweight title against Salim Larbi (20-6-2) originally from France. The Co-Main feature pits Phoenix featherweight Keenan Carbajal (12-2-1-6 knockouts) vs. veteran Gustavo Molina (23-13) from Mexico.

The under card spotlights the talent 5 Arizona fighters with Tucson?s Francisco Muro (3-5) taking on Phoenix?s Ryan Riddell (2-0) and the winner leaves knowing he bested his territorial rival; both bantamweights are tough. In what could be the best fight of the night, Cesar Alan Valenzuela (Fuentes Gym in Phoenix) hopes a victory over fellow super featherweight Jose Silveria (17-20) leads him to a title fight. Valenzuela (14-4-1) sold all of the tickets given to him by the promoter and his fan base grows bout by bout. Russian super lightweight Ilya Usachev (1-0) should have his hands full with Phoenix?s rugged Cliff Jordan (2-1) in a 4 round test. Edward Ceballos (4-1-1) told ABNN he is ready for a win against Guadalupe Arroyo (2-2) in their 4 round featherweight contest.

News & Notes: WBO lightweight Champion Dejan Zlaticanin sent a thank you note to ABNN for our recent interview with him; the champ was very pleased with the result. We wish him the best in his upcoming 1/28 battle with Mikey Garcia on Showtime?..local amateur boxers Elijah Garcia and Jake Girardot (Hammer Boxing) going to National Silver Gloves on 2/1 in Kansas City, Missouri. Jake picked up medals with wins over Colorado and California. Elijah was unopposed; wish could say the same?.. Fighters First Boxing (Buckeye, Arizona) is hosting an amateur event (Boxing?s Future 4) on March 11?.Ricky Ricardo Rodriguez (Madison Boxing) shelved his March 11 smoker plans for a later date to be determined??Phoenix Middleweight Andrew Hernandez (16-5-1) will fight for 1 possibly 2 title belts when he fights old nemesis Sijuola Ade Shabazz (6-2) at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix on 2/25. The boys head up the co-main in a 160 lb. contest while Paul Romero is the headliner as he seeks a WBU title?.ABNN plans to be on hand for the Pacquiao /Horn fight on April 23?..Southpaw bantamweight Alexis Zazueta (9-0-5 knockouts) was seen working out at Fuentes Boxing in Phoenix. He looked buffed and his power barometer is on the rise The boxing prospect is managed by Cameron Dunkin and Fans may see him on the 2/25 Celebrity Theatre Card in Phoenix.??next Arizona Boxing/MMA Commission meeting is scheduled for 2/22 at 10 a.m.?.Iron Boy?s MMA 5 show is ready to roll on March 10 at the Celebrity Theatre?.. Arizona Boxing Matchmaker Mike Sanchez plans to spend more time with his grandchildren and that means he will cut back on training fighters. He isn?t retiring; just eliminating training fighters. We wish him the best??ABNN emailed questions to Gaming Department PIO Kristian Fasching for response; stay tuned?.WBO Heavyweight Champion Joseph Parker Jr. leaves New Zealand for Las Vegas on 1/29. His management told us the champ; may fight Deontay Wilder in the next few months in an effort to unify the titles??. Until Next Time!

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Don Smith.

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