Jeff Horn’s clash against Gary Corcoran is an all-or-nothing fight

Justin Faux Columnist

By Justin Faux, Justin Faux is a Roar Expert

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    School-teacher-turned-fighter Jeff Horn is set to make the first defence of his WBO welterweight championship tonight, against Gary Corcoran.

    Horn will step between the ropes for the first time since his championship-capturing win over a past-his-prime Manny Pacquiao.

    The 29-year-old aims to record his 18th pro win, against a British-born boxer with 109 rounds of experience under his belt.

    Known as ‘The Hellraiser’, Corcoran is largely untested at welterweight. In his lone defeat, the 27-year-old beefed up to face Liam Williams for the junior middleweight crown, suffering an 11th round knockout loss.

    Most expect him to suffer a similar fate against the Queenslander, who will have a lot of supporters in his corner at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

    Horn was initially penciled in to rematch Pacquiao in his first title defence, but an injury to the once-great boxer put those plans through the paper shredder.

    Pacquiao, the only eight-division world champion in history, came tantalisingly close to knocking Horn out in the ninth round of their clash this year.

    The tough-as-nails Aussie not only survived that onslaught but remained in the fight, snatching a crucial late round to win a close and controversial decision.

    Jeff Horn wins Boxing 2017

    AAP Image/Dan Peled

    In his maiden title defence, the world-ranked fighter draws Corcoran, a questionable title challenger from England.

    While the Briton does not have an ironclad case for a title shot, winning just two fights since his loss to Williams, he is the perfect bounce-back fight for Horn.

    The Aussie went to hell-and-back with Pacquiao in July, slugging it out for 12 rounds and being used as a punching bag for more than a few of them.

    Corcoran, on paper, doesn’t really pose a serious knockout threat, and fights in an aggressive manner – exactly the type of fighter ‘The Hornet’ can sting without sustaining serious damage again.

    What should be a cruisy win for the hometown boy became a lot more difficult three weeks ago, however, when Horn sustained a cut in training.

    The battle scar required eight stitches above the left eye. Making matters worse, Horn also has scar tissue above his opposing eye, a daily reminder of his 36 minutes in the ring with Pacquiao.

    Horn’s head trainer Glenn Rushton insists it isn’t a big deal.

    “It was a freakish injury and it’s just something we will have to deal with,” he said at Monday’s press conference.

    “We had it repaired as quickly as possible and Jeff has still trained very well even though we had to stop the sparring.”

    I’m not as quick to dismiss the cut. Horn is no defensive dynamo in the ring. He likes to fight in tight, doing his best work in an opponent’s striking range.

    The former Olympian already had a target on his back, but now enters this risky fight with a huge target on his head as well.

    The downside to facing a fighter with a lower profile, like Corcoran – as opposed to a future Hall of Famer like Pacquiao – is that it makes this a must-win bout.

    The reality is, even if the history books reflect that Horn authored the upset of the year, the majority of the boxing community scored the fight for ‘Pac-Man’ and feel Horn only won because a trio of judges were swayed by a boisterous local crowd.

    A loss to Corcoran, an unknown fighter outside of a very small circle, would – in the minds of his detractors, at least – justify their belief that Horn is a middle-of-the-pack fighter who got lucky.

    ‘The Fighting Schoolteacher’ could have a very big 2018, with multi-million dollar fights against Pacquiao and Terence Crawford on the table, but those plans would go up in smoke if Corcoran takes the WBO crown home to his gypsy camp in London.

    Justin Faux
    Justin Faux

    Justin Faux is a seasoned combat sports scribe. Covering mixed martial arts and boxing since 2007, Justin has been published on NineMSN Australia, Fox Sports, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and dozens of other outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @justinfauxmma.

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    The Crowd Says (3)

    • Roar Guru

      December 13th 2017 @ 9:55am
      BigJ said | December 13th 2017 @ 9:55am | ! Report

      Tonight is definitely make or break for Horn, the first title defence is the most important for any boxer.

      Firstly he needs to win to prove that Pacquaio was not a fluke as some others have suggested, (clearly it was not) secondly he needs to prove that the life in the spotlight is not too much to handle and that the lifestyle of being a champion does not distract him from the real life of working ten times as hard to defend the title. Winning a title is the easy part its keeping it that is the real test of a champion.

      Thirdly he needs to win to ensure his mega fight win Terrence Crawford next year, it will be worth a 10 million to Horn.

      So if he wins the sky is the limit but if he loses, although it would not be the end of his career the options would dry up as far as title shots would go. Keith Thurman and Errol Spence would only fight him in an unification bout and probably would not give him a shot otherwise.

      Justin I read in your comments in you other article that you think that Horn may fight Mundine in 2018. This would be highly doubtful if Horn wins tonight. But stranger things have happened.

      If Horn wins then his focus will be on Crawford and nothing else, if he loses then maybe Mundine. If Mundine wins next month, he will try to chase BJS for a fight (unlikely) but still try. If they both lose than the possibility of the fight would increase as Mundine would have nowhere left to go Horn would need a tune up fight for his next fight after that.

      Green v Mundine 3 I don’t think should or will ever happen.

      Enjoy the fight mate, Horn on points tonight.

    • December 13th 2017 @ 1:21pm
      Darren McCosker said | December 13th 2017 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

      Tonight jeff is like the guy climbing mt blanc after conquering Everest. Those in the know see the challenge, pitfalls and risk. Capital observers say if you beat Everest this should be a walk in the park
      Of note well be how much he has evolved from that fight

    • December 13th 2017 @ 3:06pm
      Farqueue said | December 13th 2017 @ 3:06pm | ! Report

      I think you are underrating horns defensive abilities. I don’t think I’ve seen Pacman miss as many shots as he did in that fight in the first 6 rounds. I thought his bobbing and weaving really confused pac. I hope Jeff doesn’t fight Crawford next…..that guy is real good. Have some easy fights Jeff, rake in some cash.

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