Jeff and Jo with Isabelle 1yrs Horn. Pic Annette Dew
Jeff and Jo with Isabelle 1yrs Horn. Pic Annette Dew

Horn knocks back massive payday

JEFF Horn has put family first and sensationally walked away from a fight deal worth close to $2 million because it clashed with the birth of his second child.

Horn, now the No.2 ranked middleweight in the world, was offered a seven-figure payday plus Australian TV rights to face Japan's former world middleweight champ Ryota Murata in Tokyo on July 12 but walked away from the table because his wife Jo is due to give birth three weeks earlier.

The couple already has a 16-month old daughter, Isabelle.

"My family has always come first,'' Horn said.

"Jo really needs me to help her in the weeks after the birth and I want to be there too. To me that's a lot more precious than money or winning a big fight.''

 

Negotiations for Horn's next fight after his 96-second blitzing of Anthony Mundine in November had involved weeks of planning between Horn's promoter Dean Lonergan, American Bob Arum and Murata's manager Akihiko Honda.

Lonergan said it was a "testament to Jeff's character" that he was willing to pass on an offer that could have propelled him into a world middleweight title fight as the mandatory contender.

Jeff Horn stands over Anthony Mundine. Picture: Annette Dew
Jeff Horn stands over Anthony Mundine. Picture: Annette Dew

Murata won the Olympic gold medal in London in 2012 but in his last fight, on October 20, lost his WBA world middleweight title to American Rob Brant.

Lonergan said he had tried to bring Brant to Australia to defend the world title but could not make the fight "stack up financially".

"Bob Arum then graciously offered us the fight with Murata in Tokyo on June 2," Lonergan said. "That date suited us but they pushed the fight out to July 12 and Jeff said that, with the baby coming, he wouldn't take it no matter how much money was on the table."

Horn is now likely to have his next fight in Australia in late August or September and then a second fight in December.

Two fighters who have put their hand up to face Horn next are Melbourne's Michael Zerafa and Sydney's Tim Tszyu. Horn is keen on facing either of them. He says he can overpower Zerafa and outbox Tszyu.

Australian boxing star Michael Zerafa wants a shot at Jeff Horn. Picture: Alex Coppel
Australian boxing star Michael Zerafa wants a shot at Jeff Horn. Picture: Alex Coppel

They disagree.

Zerafa, who is likely to be at the head of the queue, has said: "I would happily fight Horn.

"Jeff and his team know I'd give him fits. I'm not an outdated, old man like Mundine."

Zerafa recently went 12 rounds with Britain's former world welterweight champ Kell Brook.

Tim Tszyu celebrates after winning his fight against Denton Vessell during the Star of the Ring boxing night at the Hordern Pavilion. Picture: Brett Costello
Tim Tszyu celebrates after winning his fight against Denton Vessell during the Star of the Ring boxing night at the Hordern Pavilion. Picture: Brett Costello

Tszyu has said that as soon as he saw Horn lose his world welterweight title to Terence Crawford in Las Vegas last year he called his manager and said: "You've got to make this happen, I can see the gaps and I'm positive that I'm going to win.

"That's the fight that we're looking for. This is the fight that Australia needs, the best fighting the best."