Jeff Horn successfully defended his WBO world welterweight title in his first defense, turning away Gary Corcoran with an 11th round TKO at the Convention and Exhibition Center in his hometown of Brisbane, Australia. The victory sets up a mega-fight with Terence Crawford which is expected to transpire in Las Vegas in April.
Horn won his title with a controversial decision over Manny Pacquiao, a fight that will garner serious consideration for the 2017 Upset of the Year. There was no controversy tonight, albeit the scores of the judges seemed wide to most ringsiders who thought Corcoran had a strong fourth round and that the fight was still up for grabs at the midway point. Visiting Las Vegas judge Lisa Giampa had Horn winning all 10 of the completed rounds. Her cohorts gave Corcoran only one round. The fight aired live in the U.S. on ESPN at 5:30 in the morning ET on a Wednesday.
Gary Corcoran, a Londoner, hadn’t previously fought outside the U.K. and had yet to defeat a noteworthy opponent. The scouting report on him was that he was an aggressive fighter lacking a big punch. That proved to be true. He came to fight, but Horn eventually wore him down.
Both fighters suffered cuts above their eyes. The cut above Corcoran’s left eye, which required six stitches, was the most severe. In Round 10, referee Benjy Estevez had the ring doctor examine it. He let the fight continue, but it didn’t continue for very long. Midway through the next round, Corcoran’s trainer asked the ref to stop it.
Horn improved his record to 18-0-1 (11). Corcoran suffered his second defeat in 19 starts.
Horn will be a massive underdog against Terence Crawford who many consider the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Nonetheless, the bout will be an easy sell. “This kid is as American as apple pie,” said Bob Arum of the 29-year-old Queenslander, a former schoolteacher who is the cousin of Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk. Omaha’s Crawford, who has had legal troubles and was raised in a rough neighborhood, has a different persona.
On the prospect of fighting Terence Crawford, Horn was nonchalant. “If that’s what everyone wants to see,” he shrugged, “then I guess that’s what’s going to happen.
On the undercard, it was a clean sweep for the Aussies. Queensland super middleweight Rohan Murdock (21-1), Bunbury featherweight Nathaniel “Cheeky” May (19-1), and Sydney super featherweight Paul Fleming (25-0) defeated their respective opponents.
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