AUSSIE welterweight star Jeff Horn lost his championship belt in devastating fashion after US boxer Terence Crawford claimed victory in a one-sided clash in Las Vegas.
The Aussie went to the States as the resounding underdog against the undefeated Crawford, whose lightning-quick hands and speedy footwork regularly sees him compared to fighting icon Floyd Mayweather.
A weigh-in controversy the day before, which saw Horn rush to drop 260 grams after initially coming in heavy, didn’t appear to weigh on the laid-back Aussie’s mind.
Horn was weighing around the 70kg mark by the time he touched gloves with Crawford, but his superior size was no match for the American’s incredible defence and striking speed.
The hardy 30-year-old schoolteacher copped just over eight rounds of punishment from Crawford before veteran referee Robert Byrd pulled the pin 27 seconds into the ninth as Horn began to look woozy. Here’s how the world reacted.
GLEEFUL FANS TEAR INTO HORN ‘FLUKE’
When Jeff Horn snagged a shock upset win over boxing legend Manny Pacquiao in Brisbane last year, the fighting world erupted.
A controversial score gifted the hometown hero the WBO Welterweight championship and sent the Filipino’s camp, and thousands of fans overseas, berserk.
Boos met the Aussie as fight announcer Michael Buffer called his name to the 8,000 strong crowd at T-Mobile Arena, making it clear there wasn’t a lot of love for the plucky underdog.
Fans tore into Horn immediately after Byrd called the stoppage, slapping his championship “charade” and hailing the new welterweight king.
DEFEATED HORN IS ALL CLASS
Combat sports can bring out the worst kind of aggression in athletes, especially if they lose an important fight. After losing his hard-fought WBO Welterweight belt and standing battered and bruised on the rope, Horn was anything but filthy.
On the contrary, he almost seemed excited at the opportunity to better himself.
A masterclass from Crawford, whose longer reach and quicker footwork trumped the Aussie’s larger frame, will see American leave Vegas with the championship next to his name — but opponent Horn could only look at the positive after losing his first fight.
“I’m disappointed but I’m not hurt at all. Things happen. First loss as a professional. I’ll keep going, I can rebuild,” he said.
“He’s a tricky boxer out there … I got a bit predictable and started getting clipped too much.”
After several verbal stoushes with the American and his camp in the lead-up, Horn had this to say: “He’s definitely a classy fighter, hopefully he shows a bit of humility at the end of this.”
“I want the big fights, Bob let’s make it happen.”
An eventual wave of emotion hit Horn behind the scenes as Main Event reporter Ben Damon revealed he shed a few tears after being stitched up by doctors.
Boxing promoter Bob Arum showered the Queenslander with praise, declaring he would bounce back from losing his belt to become a fearful force on the welterweight scene for years to come.
Australian Olympic boxer and gold medallist Shelley Watts also chimed in with some words of encouragement for Horn.
CRAWFORD ANSWERS THE CRITICS, WANTS ‘BIG FIGHTS’
Crawford immediately slammed pre-fight critics claiming Horn’s size and strength would create a problem for his lean 1.73m frame after extending his undefeated professional run to 33.
“I want the champs, I want the big fights,” he said.
“Like I told y’all before, I’m strong. Y’all didn’t believe me, I was way stronger than him. Y’all kept telling me how strong he was but y’all didn’t give me enough credit. So I had to go in and show y’all.
“Y’all tried to compare me to Manny Pacquiao. You see what I just did to (Jeff Horn).”
BUFFER’S HUGE PRAISE FOR HORN
Legendary ring announcer Michael Buffer has just about seen it all in combat sports, but even he was in awe of the laid-back Horn as the Aussie sat in the rooms with his wife in casual clothes, looking nonchalant as he gave interviews before the fight.
“I can’t believe how cool he looks,” Buffer after chatting to Horn.
“He’s not even dressed, so casual,” Buffer said. “But that’s his whole thing. He’s focused and comfortable in his own skin — it’s going to be an interesting fight. I can’t believe he’s 30. I look at him and think he’s 18 years old, he’s got such a baby face.”