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Las Vegas is no Brisbane


PhilBoxing.com





It was former IBF bantamweight, WBC superbantamweight and WBC featherweight champion Jeff Fenech who advised Jeff Horn how to fight Manny Pacquiao in their Brisbane battle last July. ?Just bash the bloke in close,? Fenech told Horn before the bout. ?It?s no more Mr. Nice Guy now. I?m not saying break the rules but you have to rough Manny up. Do everything to hurt him in close. Twist him, twist his knees, use your weight advantage, bully him----bang your shoulder into him. Manny can punch at a distance so close the distance. Stay on his chest and make him feel all of his 38 years.?

Horn?s trainer Glenn Rushton formulated what he called a 10-point plan to neutralize the defending WBO welterweight champion?s strengths. In the book ?Jeff Horn The Hornet----My Journey From Bullied Schoolboy To World Champion,? Horn disclosed that the strategy revolved around ?controlling the gap and avoiding Manny?s big left hand.?

Horn singled out the key elements in Rushton?s 10-point plan. ?Gap control, maintain the correct distance----taking charge of the distance was the secret to nullifying his electrifying speed,? he said. ?Recovery. When you throw punches, make sure your hands are up on the way out. Constant head movement. Keep Manny guessing and off-balance. Keep moving to the left. Avoid Manny?s big straight left at all times. Rhythm. Break Manny?s rhythm. Keep him frustrated.?

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Horn said he almost went down in the ninth round but never gave up. ?With every punch that Manny landed, my head was spinning and my equilibrium was out the window,? he said. ?My eyesight was blurry from the cut and my legs felt like jelly. I knew there were half a billion people watching this and I knew I could not go down. But it was so hard to stay upright. With 80 seconds left in the round, my legs wobbled again from another of Manny?s two-handed bursts. I was still thinking clearly despite being rocked. I knew I could set up my family for life and there was no way I was going to lose.?

In between the ninth and 10th rounds, referee Mark Nelson went to Horn?s corner and said, ?show me something or I?m going to stop the fight.? Nelson tolerated Horn?s bullying tactics from the start and didn?t even warn the Australian for bloodying Pacquiao with butts. What motivated Nelson to approach Horn?s corner? Perhaps, he wanted to make it known to his Australian hosts and the hometown crowd that the tide was turning and he shouldn?t be castigated in case of a stoppage. Perhaps, he wanted to give Horn a wake-up call, something highly irregular for a referee to show partisanship. Pacquiao?s trainer Freddie Roach complained that Horn fought dirty. ?Headlocks, pushing a guy down, using his elbows, headbutts and the referee didn?t say nothing about nothing,? he said.

Despite Horn insisting he has the ?utmost respect? for Pacquiao ?as a man and as a competitor,? the Australian ripped the Filipino icon for being critical of the unanimous decision that caused his dethronement. ?Rather than accept the decision, Manny was willing to damage the reputation of boxing----by calling into question the integrity and competence of officials----to get what he wanted,? said Horn. ?I thought it was very selfish. It was not a good advertisement for the sport at all.?

****

Horn?s disrespectful tirade on Pacquiao in his book was a sad ending to their engagement. Horn, however, quoted Pacquiao as saying, ?I love boxing and I don?t want to see it dying because of an unfair decision and officiating ... I had already accepted the decision but as a leader and at the same time, fighter, I have the moral obligation to uphold sportsmanship, truth and fairness in the eyes of the public.? Several reporters went on record to claim that Pacquiao deserved to win on points but the outcome was final. Pacquiao offered Horn a $3 Million purse for a rematch in the Philippines but the Australian opted to take a $750,000 paycheck instead to take on a pasty challenger Gary Corcoran who was stopped in the 11th round last December.

On June 9, Horn will face IBF/WBA/WBC/WBO superlightweight champion Terence Crawford at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. He?ll stake his WBO welterweight crown against the slick American who?s moving up to the 147-pound division. The heaviest Crawford has weighed for a fight was 142 in stopping Andre Gorges in five rounds in 2012 and he has since figured in 16 bouts where his weight ranged from 134 1/4 to 140. In contrast, Horn has been a natural welterweight since turning pro and even scaled 151 1/2 in clobbering Indonesia?s Aswin Cabuy five years ago. Both are 30 years old and unbeaten. Horn has an 18-0-1 record, with 12 KOs compared to Crawford?s 32-0, with 23 KOs.

Will Horn bully and roughhouse Crawford like he did Pacquiao? Will the referee tolerate his shenanigans? Horn will surely try to overpower Crawford with his weight advantage but his lack of skills will be exposed in the process. Don?t bet on Horn getting away with his dirty tricks against Crawford. It?s a different ball game in Las Vegas than in Brisbane.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.


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