By: Ciaran O’Mahony
Jeff Horn will need to produce the performance of his career to beat highly-rated American Terrence Crawford on the 9th of June, but he is far from a “paper champion”, according to top Australian trainers.
Although he is a hero to Australian boxing fans, Horn is regularly criticised by American pundits, who have labelled his upset victory over Manny Pacquaio a “robbery” and dismissed his chances of competing with the best in the Welterweight division.
One of Australia’s finest trainers, Gerry Murphy, says he can’t understand the negative press Horn has received overseas or the controversy surrounding the fight.
“I didn’t think it was controversial at all. Jeff won that fight 100%,” he says.
Murphy has been involved in the sport since 1973 and his self-named “Murphy’s Boxing Gym” has produced some of Australian boxing’s biggest names, including Commonwealth Games Gold medallist Brad Pitt and two-time Presidents Cup Bronze medallist Trent Rawlins.
Murphy says he knows a bad decision when he sees one because his current star, WBA (Oceania) Middleweight Champion Tej Singh, has been on the wrong side of a few.
“He has four losses on his record and every single one of them, he has won. So people underestimated him and didn’t realise how good he was,” according to Murphy.
WBA Oceania Middleweight Champion Tej Singh (middle) in sparring action with Gerry Murphy (right) watching on.
He feels that Pacquaio can have few complaints about the result as Horn boxed a smart fight, using his size and tenacity to wear the Filipino down.
He questioned Pacquaio’s conditioning, pointing out that he could have stopped Horn, but didn’t have enough in the tank to put him away.
“I don’t think Pacquaio rated Horn and I don’t think he trained for that fight,” Murphy says.
Predrag Galic, who has produced state and national champions in Boxing, Kick-boxing and Muay Thai out of “Prestige Gym” in Melbourne, agrees that complacency was Pacquaio’s greatest enemy.
“The guy was not prepared. From what I understand he did not train as hard as he should have,” he says.
Galic acknowledges that it can be difficult to get a close decision against a home-town fighter, but says the reality is “against a guy on home soil you must do more to win.”
Predrag Galic, owner of Prestige Gym, Melbourne, Australia
He says peoples’ judgement of the fight has been skewed by the damage he took in the 9th round, when Pacquaio hurt him several times with a barrage of lethal combinations.
“I think a bit of the controversy came from the fact that he was nearly stopped. He got hurt late in the fight, but you can’t score a fight on one or two rounds,” he says.
Whether you feel that Horn deserved the decision or not, Galic says no one could deny that he put on a fantastic performance against one of the best fighters of his generation.
“Controversy aside the guy stood there and fought,” he says.
“Regardless of the decision, for Horn to perform so well against a fighter like that and a southpaw, which would have been uncomfortable for him, I give him a lot of credit,” Galic says.
Although Pacquaio was a huge scalp for Horn, both trainers feel that Crawford represents the biggest challenge of his career.
Murphy has some inside knowledge on the former light-welterweight champion as his fighters watched Crawford spar at a training camp in Colorado.
“The whole Australian team watched him spar at a camp in Colorado and they said he was phenomenal. They said he was almost magical to watch,” he says.
“I think they’re making a bit of a mistake in fighting Crawford now. I would’ve given him a couple of more winnable fights first,” Murphy says.
“They said Crawford’s up there with Lomachenko. I don’t think Jeff can beat him,” says Murphy.
Galic says Crawford’s physical attributes could cause Horn some problems, explaining that “looking at those 2 fighters, Horn is definitely the bigger guy, but Crawford has a longer reach and this is something not many people realise.”
“Crawford’s a little bit shorter but he has a reach advantage. He is a very swift counter-puncher who covers 180 degrees, whereas Jeff Horn covers slightly past 90,” he says.
“Crawford is a volume puncher with a longer reach and a 70% knockout ratio. He’s very dangerous,” Galic says.
“I hope Jeff Horn’s team have looked at that and addressed it in training, otherwise they could be surprised,” according to Galic.
Regardless of the outcome in Las Vegas, Murphy and Galic believe Horn is a great example for young athletes around the world.
Murphy has met Horn at a few national events and says “he’s genuinely one of the nicest guys in boxing.”
He says that Horn doesn’t receive as much attention as he should, partly because “he doesn’t talk shit about his opponents.”
However, he admires the way the Queenslander carries himself and says “he’s a really genuinely nice person.”
Galic tells a similar story, recalling how Horn was so pleasant with all of his fans at a Golden Gloves event and that his newfound fame doesn’t seem to have gone to his head.
“if he really was lucky against Pacquaio, the next few fights will show it,” he says.
Horn will get the chance to prove his doubters wrong again in just a few weeks.