With the location of the fight unconfirmed at this point, the leading bid is believed to be Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium- although other possibilities such as Victoria, New South Wales and the Middle East may swoop in to try and host the lucrative event.
In an exclusive interview with Australian Boxing Central, we caught up with “The Hornet” Jeff Horn and his trainer Glenn Rushton to speak on the magnitude of this fight- and what it means for the both of them to have this opportunity on April 23rd.
ABC: What will this fight allow you to do, in terms of your goals and your legacy in boxing? Regardless which city lands the big fight, what will your message to the Australian sporting public be? Who are you representing, and who are you fighting for?
Horn: “I want to be a good role model and make an impact in the boxing world and what better way is there to do that than beat a legend like Manny. I am representing the average Australian bloke when I step in the ring for this fight. I was brought up next to a farm in Pallara on acreage. I have never had an overly extravagant lifestyle. I went to a very small primary school, then Macgregor State High School, and then to TAFE- to finally go and study being a teacher at university. I worked part time as a uni student at a child care centre to make ends meet. I have been with Joanna, my wife, for 11 years, since I started boxing, and I am fighting for her and our future family. I am also fighting for Australia, as well as my family and friends who have all believed and supported me along this journey.”
"Most of all I am fighting for myself. I have felt since I was a child that I was meant for something big. A fight with one of the greatest ever, Manny Pacquiao, is going to be a highlight in this amazing roller coaster ride of a journey to a world title."
His trainer, Glenn Rushton, has been training Jeff since 2006- where a young 18 year old teen came to Glenn's gym to learn some self defence.
Rushton: "I think of Jeff like a son, and I will do everything I can to make all of his dreams come true. He is unassuming, a humble hero – the guy next door, everyone’s best mate. The sort of young man that every Dad would like his daughter to marry. No one outside of boxing would believe Jeff is a boxer – until he gets in the ring. Only then do they realise what a fierce competitor he is. That’s when he transforms from Jeff Horn into The Hornet.
After more than 4 decades in the fight game, you develop a bit of a sixth sense around fighters. I can often tell from the first lesson, but I don’t always tell people, as the world is full of talent that amounts to nothing. But when you combine talent, with a burning desire, hard work, and total belief – magic can happen. I saw the talent in Jeff early. He listened intently, picked technique up quickly, had good, efficient legs, was tough, and came without any mental baggage."
Rushton: "If Manny is fading, someone should tell Jessie Vargas or Timothy Bradley, who he fought recently, as these were world champions, and Manny beat them very convincingly, so if he is fading at all, it is very slowly, and from such a high peak, that he is still way above the opposition. I respect Manny as a boxer, and a person, and in my opinion, he has nothing left to prove to anybody. What he has done for his sport and his country is unbelievable. He is a living legend, and it will be an honour to have Jeff fight him. How will Jeff measure up against Manny? I think it’s a great fight, as when Manny fought Floyd Mayweather, it was a cat and mouse game – but with Jeff, it’ll be a cat and cat game. Two very skilful hunters, pitted against each other in a titanic battle. They are both very fast, very tough, and have tremendous power. Their styles are relatively similar, in that they have great variations, a wide variety of skills, and excellent footwork. This fight will be fought between two great warriors, and I would not be at all surprised if this becomes the fight of the year. I have total faith in my skills, and Jeff’s, and we will leave no stone unturned in our quest for victory. These are the challenges we live for. Of course, many people will underestimate Jeff’s chances – but they don’t know Jeff like I know Jeff."
All articles featured on the Australian Boxing Central website are written by Tai Tuiniua, and all interviews are conducted by Mark Franklin, unless stated otherwise.