Jeff Horn - Boxing - PlayersVoice
Jeff Horn - Boxing - PlayersVoice

Boxing

The moment every fighter fears

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Boxing

The moment every fighter fears

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It’s the ninth round and Manny Pacquiao is circling, trying to finish me off.

 

I’m pretty much out of it at one point. I get hit and dodge a couple of punches. I’m looking, moving, trying to stay aware of what’s coming.

 

There’s a blur in my right eye. I don’t know if it’s the blood dripping into my eye, or from getting smacked straight after a punch, or straight after a head clash that it happened. Whatever it is, it isn’t good.

 

It’s the moment every fighter fears. You’re on the biggest stage of your life, the world is watching, all your hopes and dreams are playing out in the space of a few short rounds.

 

Now here I am, in trouble, and with Pacquiao chasing me down.

 

It’s a life-changing moment.

 

 

THE STARE DOWN

It’s surreal when you’re standing in the middle of Suncorp Stadium and Manny Pacquiao is staring you down.

 

Here he is, the legend and my idol and I’m about to fight him for a world title.

 

This is my dream. This is what I’ve always wanted.

 

I try to stare him down. Let him know that I’m here to fight.

 

He is kind of smiling, though. He has that serious face, but still semi-smiling back at me with his cheeky grin.

 

It isn’t annoying, I know he is a really nice guy outside of the ring but inside those ropes, there are no friends.

 

I have butterflies in my stomach, but I have prepared myself mentally for this challenge.

 

 

As soon as that bell rings I know I have to prove something to Pacquiao.

 

Because of all his antics before the fight I know that he is probably underestimating me. I don’t think he is coming in here knowing what he is up against.

 

I’m a very tough competitor and I am going to prove it to him in that first round.

 

I have to be on the front foot. I have to push him and take the attack to him.

 

I know what Manny Pacquiao is like, I’ve seen him so many times before and he is a hunter out there, he likes following his opponent, hunting them down and stopping them. I can’t let that happen to me.

 

Here he is, the legend and my idol and I’m about to fight him for a world title.

 

He’s a strong puncher, but I wouldn’t say he is the hardest puncher I’ve versed.

 

He definitely has a sharp, hard hit on him that I wouldn’t want to get connected with cleanly because then I probably would go down and lights would be out straight away.

 

Those first few rounds I’m out-boxing him and he isn’t getting me much. I’m roughing him up and he’s kind of surprised at that and doesn’t know what to do.

 

 

‘HE DOESN’T WANT IT. HE’S GOING TO GET IT’

I can remember him saying to me in a clinch, ‘Break!’, which is what the referee usually says when you come into a grapple.

 

The first time he does it, I actually listen to him and step away.

 

But after that I think, if he is uncomfortable with me being in close and clinching him and trying to punch him on the inside, I will do that more and more times.

 

He doesn’t want it.

 

He’s going to get it.

 

I won’t let him dictate the fight.

 

He starts to try to come forward a bit more in the middle rounds but I’m still using my movement and gap to make him swing and miss. I’m still hitting him and getting him on those ropes and giving him combos.

 

The plan is working. My corner is very positive with what is happening. Glenn Rushton, my coach, keeps telling me I’m up and I won that round.

 

We always think I am winning.

 

 

 

THE NINTH ROUND

Pacquiao definitely picks up the pressure in the eighth, ninth and tenth rounds.

 

He knows he has to because he is behind.

 

He is trying to get the job done and finish me.

 

My problem is the head clashes. When you feel the crack as two heads come together it hurts, more than you can imagine.

 

I’m stepping back from him and using my movement to dodge the big bombs he’s throwing.

 

This is the round everybody talks about and I can honestly tell you, it’s hard.

 

I have to stay away and keep my head together.

 

It’s the moment every fighter fears. You’re on the biggest stage of your life, the world is watching, all your hopes and dreams are playing out in the space of a few short rounds.

 

All the emotions are flooding through my head at this stage. I just keep trying to talk to myself, just imagine everyone who is close to me and was expecting me to win.

 

Everyone else is expecting me to fall over right now. They never thought I would get this far and they think this is the moment I go down.

 

I don’t want to get stopped by Pacquaio. I want to finish the fight, at the very least, because I feel like I was winning those first rounds and have a real shot at getting a decision at the end.

 

I’m thinking of my family, my future and setting myself up. I want to be world champion. That’s always been my major goal as a boxer, to be the best at my sport.

 

These are all the things floating through my head at once in that round and I think to myself, ‘I’ve just got to keep going, I just need to get to the bell.’

 

I know if I go down in that moment it will change everything.

 

 

‘SHOW ME SOMETHING’

At the break I just have to gather my thoughts. The head clash hurts, but I’m not finished. No way. Not even close.

 

When the referee comes over and says, ‘Show me something or I’m going to stop this fight,’ I’m like no, no, no. My corner is screaming and going off.

 

I’m too tired to argue, so I’m just shaking my head. All I’m thinking is, ‘I’m going to show you something alright.’

 

It’s another bit of motivation for me. Another person thinking I can’t do this, someone thinking I can’t reach my world title dreams. 

 

I know then that when I get out in the tenth, 11th and 12th rounds I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.

 

I don’t want to throw too many punches so I’m still open for him to hit me. I’m still smart about it, but definitely putting the pressure on a bit more than the early rounds. It’s now or never.

 

The last round I just have to empty the tank, so it was definite and there could be no arguments that I finish the fight the strongest.

 

I don’t want the fight to go to a decision against Pacquiao. I’m always thinking I needed a knock out to beat him.

 

Everyone thinks the legend or the person with the big name is always meant to win if it goes to a deicison.

 

Waiting for the decision, I‘m nervous. I know it’s a close fight but I’m confident I’ve done enough to win.

 

 

 

THE FALLOUT

At the end of the fight I remember Pacquiao saying he respected the judges’ opinions and he was happy with the fight and it was a good fight.

 

Things changed very quickly when he went home and had a heap of people in his ear saying he won the fight. I don’t know if he’s watched back the fight, but I have and I believe I still won it.

 

For some reason, others have found it hard to accept I was the winner, like ESPN commentator Teddy Atlas.

 

When you step out of the ring and are told to immediately do an interview with ESPN, you don’t expect what happens next.

 

When Teddy made those remarks, ‘I don’t think you’ve won the fight, I thought Pacquiao won,’ to be honest I wasn’t going to let anything stop me or bring me down at that point.

 

I just said, ‘I respect your opinion and that’s what you think, but I’m still the winner.’ I still had the belt on my waist and still get to call myself the world champion.

 

It was annoying but I was never going to let him take that moment away from me. I am mentally stronger than that to let a little remark from Teddy Atlas take me down from the biggest high of my life.

 

I haven’t seen him or spoken to him since. I don’t really have any interest in seeing him either. I’m not a confrontational person. I don’t really have too much against him, I just would prefer it if he didn’t call my fights in the future because obviously he is not a fan.

 

I know a lot of fight fans point to the stats to say I didn’t win and I’ll admit, I was really shocked at them too.

 

I kind of don’t feel like they’re correct from what I feel happened in that fight.

 

It was annoying but I was never going to let him take that moment away from me. I am mentally stronger than that to let a little remark from Teddy Atlas take me down from the biggest high of my life.

 

There’s no way. Every punch he threw I can remember answering back to him, at least mine I felt were accurate punches.

 

There’s a lot of variables in the fight game and stats can’t tell you how hard punches were, how cleanly they landed and what impact they had. That’s why you don’t take much notice of them.

 

I wasn’t nervous when the WBO did a review of the fight, but I’m glad they did. I knew what had happened and the majority of those independent judges agreed.

 

They were never going to take the belt off me but just knowing I won that fight truly was a good feeling when those results came through.

 

 

THE FUTURE

People keep imagining me as this million dollar man now who has all this money.

 

It’s not true and it doesn’t work that way.

 

I’m still going to be the same guy no matter what happens in the future or no matter how much my bank account says.

 

I’m the same person that, at age 19 or 20, was told by Glenn I had the potential to go all the way in boxing.

 

At the time I was studying to be a teacher at university, working at a childcare centre and had only taken up boxing after getting bullied at school.

 

I was just an average kid. A little bit smaller, a bit skinnier and I didn’t have the confidence to defend myself.

 

But he could see my mindset, my competitiveness and just some natural ability with punching and moving. He saw something in me and thought I could become world champion.

 

I am an every day guy. I’m not anything you haven’t seen before.

 

 

We won’t be millionaires after the one fight. Maybe after a rematch we will be sitting a lot better.

 

Whatever happens I’ve got a strong family and strong friends who are going to keep me grounded. They won’t treat me differently and I won’t treat them any differently.

 

I’ve given myself until the age of 35 in boxing, then I’d like to give it up and retire. I don’t want to be fighting into my late 30s and 40s.

 

What’s next? I have to defend my belt.

 

The second fight with Pacquaio isn’t happening in November, like we thought it was going to, so we’re looking at other opponents for that.

 

My wife Joanna is due with our first child in January, so I want to fight in November or early December at the latest so all my focus can be on her and on our baby at that time. That is what I’m most looking forward to.

 

Then I want that rematch with Pacquiao next year.

 

He was always someone I looked up to as a fighter and how he holds himself in and out of the ring. He has changed my mind a little bit in how he acted coming to Australia and fighting me.

 

I know what I’ve got to do.

 

Jeff Horn  -  Founding Contributor

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