Jeff Horn's next opponent is American Terence Crawford, considered one of the best pound for pound boxers in the world, after the Australian WBO world welterweight champion survived another bloodbath of a bout with a stoppage win against Gary Corcoran.
There were fears going into last night's fight at the Brisbane Events Centre that local boy Horn could be betrayed by the scars over his eyes suffered in his epic points victory over Manny Pacquiao in the city in July, but instead it was tough Brit Corcoran who had the most blood running down his face.
In the end it did for him – his corner throwing in the towel early in the 11th round due to large cut over his left eye which left him unable to see clearly – a shame for him as Horn struggled with his range in the early rounds and was bleeding as well.
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Horn's relieved promoter Dean Lonergan watched from ringside, the Kiwi knowing that there are some very lucrative fights around the corner, including a bout against Crawford which is likely to be in Las Vegas in April.
The three judges all had Horn well ahead on their scorecards at the time of the stoppage, but Horn – who missed two weeks of sparring in the lead-up after needing more stitches to his face – battled to out-box Corcoran after winning the first round and the anxiety could be heard among the crowd of about 6,000.
"The timing was off – I couldn't find that range that well – but as soon as I started working off that jab and going first, I managed to break him down quite easily," Horn said after being congratulated by his heavily pregnant wife Jo.
Trainer Glenn Rushton said of Horn's next opponent, a mandatory challenge from the unbeaten Crawford who has come up from the lightweight and super lightweight divisions: "Look, Crawford is beatable. He has his weaknesses that we can exploit. He may be slapping around the lightweights and the super lightweights, but the welterweights are bigger boys – they're tougher.
"It may only be seven pounds but that's a lot in boxing terms and a lot of the tough guys congregate in this welterweight division."
Many observers believe Horn will struggle against Crawford because the 29-year-old former Brisbane schoolteacher can be hit too easily. He was in big trouble against Pacquiao at Suncorp Stadium before responding with a brilliant final two rounds to win a controversial decision and he again took punishment from Corcoran, a man considered a game but limited boxer.
Legendary promoter Bob Arum, the Top Rank boss who has Crawford on his books, alluded to that when he said: "I as an observer would say that as far as boxing skill is concerned I would favour Crawford. But as far as strength and size are concerned you'd have to go with Jeff. It will be a great, great fight and maybe it could be a ring classic."
Patrick McKendry travelled to Brisbane with assistance from Duco Events