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Jeff Horn & Co: Former Manny Pacquiao foe should have been more humble

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Lee Cleveland Updated
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After controversially defeating fight legend Manny Pacquiao in 2017, Jeff Horn became a star in Australia and internationally relevant among boxing enthusiasts.

Immediately after the Pacquiao debate, Jeff and his team were emphatic in their insistence Horn soundly defeated PacMan and subsequently started targeting other big names in the sport.

Jeff Horn had arrived on the big stage.... Or so it seemed.

In just his second fight following the Pacquiao upset, Horn surprisingly faced top 3 pound-for-pound phenom Terence Crawford.

Jeff received a handsome purse of $1.75 Million in return for a hellacious whoppin.' Crawford sliced and diced Horn that evening, hitting him with everything but the kitchen sink en route to a non-competitive 9th Round TKO victory.

Horn and his team's confidence was admirable but Jeff, after just 19 fights and few recognizable names on his resume, wasn't ready to face a specimen like Crawford.

Five months later, he blew away 99 year old Anthony Mundine and subsequently tried to put boxing's middleweight powerbrokers on notice, insisting he'd be a terror in his new division and with the added weight.

In August, Horn took a supposed tune-up against fellow Aussie Michael Zerafa (then 26-3, 16 KO) and was thoroughly beaten up, eventually losing via 9th Round TKO.

The loss cost Horn a big payday against Japanese Olympic champion Ryoto Murata. But for Zerafa, it was a breakthrough win and dominant performance. He made a name for himself Down Under in front of a capacity crowd of 4,500 fans.

“I just felt really sluggish,” Horn said afterwards.

“It’s really annoying — I hate using that as an excuse. But I just felt like crap going into it."

“Jeff only lost the fight through tiredness in the end, yes he made a mistake,” said Horn's trainer, Glenn Rushton.

“He did underestimate Michael Zerafa in that fight. He didn’t put the work in. This time he has and we look forward to it.

Given Horn's status in Australia, he and his team should realize he's a marked man there. His Aussie opponents will be at the top of their game when they face him. They will automatically be better fighters just as Jeff elevated his game against Pacquiao.

Horn wanted what Pacquiao had... The fame and fortune that come along with success in boxing. Now, his opponents want what Jeff has.

Although Jeff is nowhere near the megastar Manny is, he's a big deal in Australia and his Aussie foes realize upsetting Jeff can greatly enhance their stock going forward.

So... of course Zerafa was better than expected. And, of course he was in the best shape of his career when he faced Horn.

Is Team Horn listening?

Horn vs Zerafa 2
On Wednesday, Jeff Horn will face Michael Zefera in a rematch. Will the former be ready?

Horn has had a mere two fights at middleweight and he's 1-1 in that division. Again, it's commendable Team Horn exercised the rematch clause straight away. They have a lot of confidence in their fighter but is it too much?

Aside from a controversial win over a presumed ill-prepared Pacquiao, Horn & Co. don't have a lot to be boastful about. Yes, he's a good fighter with a lot of potential but he lacks the pedigree, experience and professional achievements to be so boastful and confident.

"Jeff owed Michael absolutely nothing,” Horn’s trainer Glenn Rushton said at a press conference in Brisbane to announce the fight last Thursday.

“Jeff has given Michael everything and he doesn’t owe him anything. We’re just saying to fulfil the contact... the eye of the tiger is back. We’re seeing things in Jeff we haven’t seen for a long time now.”

The 'eye of the tiger is back?'

Seriously? ... Where did it go? It should have never left Jeff.

If Jeff is already having motivational issues, that's a big problem.

Team Horn should have been more humble in their approach after the Pacquiao fight. Now, they face a tough rematch against a hungry, motivated opponent.

Regarding Horn's newfound motivation, Zefara retorted:

“We heard that last fight. And what happened. You will see. It’s his [Jeff Horn] last fight, he will retire on December 18.”

“You haven’t just denied me a world title fight, you’ve denied Australia a world title fight,” Zerafa said. “Now I can see why everyone hates you guys.”

Not only is Zerafa confident, he's angry.

I'm not convinced it was a good idea for Team Horn to exercise the rematch clause so soon.

They should have taken a longer, more humble, more disciplined road to success. There's nothing wrong with cultivating a fighter...What happened to the maturation process?

Horn vs Zerafa 2 should be interesting.

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