One moment saved Jeff Horn’s career
IT WAS all on the line for Jeff Horn as he entered his rematch against Michael Zerafa with his career hanging in the balance.
Two losses from his past three fights - both devastating ninth round knockouts - and one win against a supremely past his prime Anthony Mundine, had the Queenslander staring at the abyss.
The ninth-round kryptonite almost came back to haunt Horn on Wednesday night, but this time he managed to not only survive but return serve in devastating fashion.
An aggressive Horn came out of the gate swinging. His first punch attempt of the night was a wild lunging left-handed haymaker that Zerafa easily avoided.
It set the tone for the fight with Horn setting a frenetic pace and taking the fight up to his favoured opponent. The plan, however, backfired as the fight entered the final four rounds.
Horn was gassed, sucking in heavy breaths and holding on to Zerafa at every opportunity he could get his hands on him.
Then came the ninth round. One that will go down as arguably one of the rounds of the year, not just in Australia but across the globe.
The former champ was done, stumbling around the ring as Zerafa stalked him like a lion. Horn ate blow after blow and if not for the referee stepping in, the curtain may have come down on his career.
A controversial intervention gave Horn time to collect himself and just moments later he landed one huge right hand that sent his opponent sprawling to the canvas.
Both fighters, and the referee, ended the bout soaked in blood, with Horn claiming the majority decision victory.
He had saved his career. But questions still linger over just how far Horn can go following the brutal war.
Horn's jab was on point all night long, but too often he stooped to throwing wild haymakers and in the clinch repeatedly hit the back of Zerafa's head.
His all-or-nothing pace to start the fight almost cost him dearly, and against a superior opponent it would have spelled disaster.
Zerafa is a solid boxer, but the likes of Crawford and other champions are a level above and would have made the most of a gassed opponent.
It seems unlikely the plan and Horn's style will see him scale the grand heights of world boxing like he has in years past.
The brutal win may have saved his career for the time being, but if not for a bizarre stoppage from the referee and one thumping right hand … it all could have gone the other way.
With a reported mega payday waiting in the way of a three-fight contract with Australian boxing's golden child, Tim Tszyu, the questions over Horn will remain.
He showed he has the heart of a champion, but whether or not he can take it to the best on a global scale remains to be seen.