Former welterweight titlist Jeff Horn returns to the scene of his biggest triumph on Friday when he meets bitter rival Anthony Mundine, in the biggest fight of the year in Australia, at the impressive Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
Horn catapulted himself onto the world stage with a controversial win over Manny Pacquiao at the Suncorp in July 2017, while fellow Australian Mundine has been well known for many years in his home country. For several years, Horn and Mundine have jawed at each other, and now they’ll get to settle their differences in a scheduled 12-round catchweight contest at 156 pounds.
Horn, who is rated No. 9 by The Ring at 147 pounds, is determined to not just win but to make a statement. In his last fight, he experienced his first professinal loss when he was overwhelmed by Terence Crawford and stopped in the ninth round.
“This is an important fight to win comfortably,” Horn (18-1-1, 12 knockouts) told The Ring. “I won’t get any credit for a skinny win against a 43-year-old fighter. Anthony will be fit and dangerous, particularly early. So I don’t expect it to be easy. I want to get this done and move on towards another world title shot.”
Although both fighters have traded barbs in the press in the lead-up, Horn says it’s only natural with the pressure of such a big fight with local bragging rights on the line.
“I have a great deal of respect for Anthony and what he has achieved in a great sporting career,” said Horn. “We both have our focus on winning this fight. The rest of it is our competitive streak coming out.”
Mundine was a hugely successful Rugby League player who decided to give up his career and switch to boxing. “Choc” made his professional debut in 2000 and moved quickly, winning a slew of regional titles. In just his 11th fight, he challenged Sven Ottke for the IBF super middleweight title. Although Mundine lost, he gave Ottke his toughest fight.
He went on to win the WBA 168-pound title and became a polarizing superstar in Australia. He enjoyed a rivalry with Danny Green, splitting two fights. He also has wins over Daniel Geale (SD 12), Shane Mosley (TKO 7) and Siarhei Rabchanka (SD 12). Mundine’s record stands at (48-8, 28 knockouts).
While Mundine was most successful at 168 pounds, over the past few years — aside from the Green rematch — he’s fought between junior middleweight and middleweight. This had been a sticking point in negotiations with Horn, who has fought as a welterweight his entire career.
Horn is a big welterweight, though, and is happy about stepping up for one fight, though isn’t sure in which weight class his future lies.
“One thing I have learned in this game is that it is impossible to have a definite plan,” he explained. “Opportunities will emerge after this fight, and my team and I will will make the best decision. I do expect to be very strong at this weight. Not having to watch the weight so much is a very welcome bonus this time.”
As usual, the 30-year-old former schoolteacher is preparing at home in Brisbane under the watchful eye of Glenn Rushton at the Stretton boxing club. Rushton remains steadfast with regards who the No. 1 fighter is in Australia.
“Jeff confirmed the changing of the guard when he defeated eight-division world champion and future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao,” said Rushton. “Mundine is yesterday’s news. Jeff is ‘The Man’ now. He will show his dominance on November 30th. 52,000 people attended this venue the last time Jeff fought at Suncorp Stadium (versus Manny Pacquiao). It is a day etched in Australian sporting folklore. This upcoming fight against Mundine is a massive fight in Australia. It is not to be missed.”
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