PEO­PLE'S CHAMP

Horn stuns world in Sun­corp thriller

Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - GRANTLEE KIEZA

HUM­BLE hero Jeff Horn has scored one of the great­est wins ever in this coun­try’s sport­ing his­tory by tak­ing Manny Pac­quiao’s world wel­ter­weight ti­tle at Sun­corp Sta­dium with a 12- round de­ci­sion.

Horn toughed out vic­tory against one of box­ing’s all- time greats, sur­viv­ing a badly cut eye, a sav­agely swollen face and a Pac­quiao surge to score a unan­i­mous points de­ci­sion.

JEFF Horn did it. He shocked the world and made ev­ery kid who has ever been bul­lied stand tall and proud to salute him. The hum­ble hero from sub­ur­ban Bris­bane scored one of the great­est wins ever in this coun­try’s sport­ing his­tory by tak­ing Manny Pac­quiao’s world wel­ter­weight ti­tle at Sun­corp Sta­dium yes­ter­day with a 12- round de­ci­sion. And yet, amid the eu­pho­ria, af­ter putting an ex­cla­ma­tion mark on an as­ton­ish­ing fairytale vic­tory, he an­nounced that win­ning the World Box­ing Or­gan­i­sa­tion wel­ter­weight ti­tle from one of the great­est fight­ers of all time was not re­ally the high­light of his life. That was still to come, he told the crowd of 50,000, be­cause his child­hood sweet­heart — wife Jo — is preg­nant. The Fight­ing Schoolteacher dug deep down into the re­cesses of his heart yes­ter­day to tough out vic­tory against one of box­ing’s all- time greats, sur­viv­ing a badly- cut eye, a sav­agely- swollen face and a Pac­quiao surge in the ninth round that had Amer­i­can ref­eree Mark Nel­son threat­en­ing to stop the bout. But Horn held tough, he looked deep within to find an­other gear. Prompted by coach Glenn Rush­ton to “re­mem­ber the dream” he got back on top to win a blood­bath of non- stop pul­sat­ing ac­tion. And while Pac­quiao has a re­match clause in his con­tract for a re­turn fight at Sun­corp in Novem­ber, Horn im­me­di­ately sent out a chal­lenge to Floyd May­weather, the cocky Amer­i­can who earned $ 200 million by beat­ing Pac­quiao on points in 2015. The huge crowd of about 50,000 yes­ter­day en­sured Horn would take home more than $ 1 million from Aus­tra-

lia’s big­gest fight, with Pac­quiao earn­ing about 10 times that fig­ure.

He jokes that work­ing as a schoolteacher and as a qual­i­fied child­care worker be­fore that has made him tough enough to cope with any­thing, even Manny Pac­quiao in a toe- to- toe brawl for the ages.

As he and Rush­ton had planned, Horn used his sharp foot­work to send Pac­quiao’s tim­ing hay­wire in the early rounds.

The Filipino world champ con­stantly missed with his oth­er­wise dan­ger­ous left hand as Horn stayed out of range be­fore strik­ing with his own crack­ing com­bi­na­tions.

The elec­tric at­mos­phere at Sun­corp was sim­ply breath­tak­ing and Horn and Pac­quiao de­liv­ered a fight that more than lived up to the hype.

No one who was inside the Caul­dron yes­ter­day will ever for­get see­ing the hum­ble boxer from Aca­cia Ridge beat­ing the box­ing icon, who is now a high- rank­ing Filipino se­na­tor

As Horn spoke in the ring im­me­di­ately af­ter the fight, blood dripped from a cut above his right eye and the bruis­ing on his face was turn­ing pur­ple.

“It’s all worth it,” Horn said.

“All the pain and sac­ri­fice. I wanted to make my fam­ily and my friends proud. Manny was try­ing so hard in there and I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate him giv­ing me the chance to fight for this world ti­tle.

“He hit me hard a few times in that ninth round and our heads banged to­gether caus­ing the cuts.

“Those head clashes buzzed me a few times, but there was noth­ing Manny could do that would stop me from my dream.

“I started learn­ing self- de­fence from Glenn Rush­ton 11 years ago be­cause I was get­ting beaten up at school.

“Glenn made me be­lieve in my­self.

“I didn’t even know how to throw a punch then but he gave me con­fi­dence, he made me be­lieve I could achieve any­thing.

“You saw to­day the power that comes from be­liev­ing in your­self, from hav­ing good peo­ple around you and work­ing towards a dream.”

I WANTED TO MAKE MY FAM­ILY AND MY FRIENDS PROUD. JEFF HORN

CHAM­PION: Jeff Horn sits with wife Jo and has a quiet mo­ment af­ter his amaz­ing vic­tory at Sun­corp Sta­dium, with the WBO wel­ter­weight belt by his side. Pic­ture: PETER WALLIS

UN­COM­PRO­MIS­ING: Jeff Horn and Manny Pac­quiao slugged it out over 12 bru­tal rounds at Sun­corp Sta­dium yes­ter­day be­fore the Aus­tralian was an­nounced the win­ner. Pic­tures: AFP, AAP

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