Jeff Horn: Terence Crawford will be shocked at my strength
By Chris Williams: Jeff Horn (18-0-1, 12 KOs) will be defending his WBO welterweight title in less than two weeks from now against former two division world champion Terence Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) on June 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Horn, 30, is the underdog in the contest despite being unbeaten and holding the WBO title. However, the 5’9” Horn says his plan is to use his size and physicality to wear down the shorter 5’8” Crawford, who will be moving up in weight from the 140lb weight division, which he dominated for the last three years against largely weaker opposition. Top Rank never matched Crawford against the tougher guys like Regis Prograis, Sergey Lipinets, Josh Taylor and Kiryl Relikh. Instead of fighting those hard punchers, Crawford was matched against Julius Indongo, Dierry Jean, Henry Lundy, John Molina Jr., Felix Diaz and Viktor Postol. You can say that Crawford left the 140lb division without proving himself against any of the good fighters. Top Rank didn’t even match Crawford against one of their own guys in Jose Ramirez, which is surprising because Bob Arum tends to make a lot of in house fights between his fighters, but he didn’t do it in this case.
“It’ll be a fight, especially if it goes to the later rounds,” Horn said to Yahoo Sports News about his fight on June 9 against Crawford. “He won’t be used to that kind of physicality in the fight and he won’t want to be in there too much longer. Once they get in with me, they’re surprised by my strength and they’re completely shocked and they start to second guess themselves and that’s what’s going to happen to Terence Crawford,” Horn said.
Horn is assuming that Crawford is going to fight it out with him in the pocket in the same way his last two opponents Gary Corcoran and Manny Pacquiao did. It’s doubtful that Crawford will stand and fight Horn, because that’s not the way he fights. Crawford often moves around the ring when he faces guys with offensive skill. Crawford will probably fight a hit and run type of game for most of the fight, and occasionally look to 3-punch combinations. Crawford usually doesn’t throw more than 3 punches at a time, because he gets hit when he throws more than that, and he does not like to get hit. Viktor Postol was able to put hands on Crawford when the Nebraska native stopped running in the 12th and exchanged with him. Postol got the better of Crawford, which sent him fleeing. Crawford spent the rest of the fight moving, sticking his tongue out and stalling out the fight, while boxing fans at ringside booed. It was a horrible way for Crawford to end the fight, but he was way up on the scorecards and he couldn’t get the better of Postol by exchanging shots.
If this is a straight up fight with both guys standing and trading, Horn has a good chance of inflicting some severe punishment on Crawford, who many boxing fans saw as a weight bully when he was fighting at light welterweight. Crawford was rehydrating to near 160 for his fights in the 140lb division, which made him a bigger fighter than his opponent. For all intents and purposes, Crawford was a welterweight fighting at light welterweight. Being bigger physically than his opponents obviously gave Crawford an advantage. Now that Crawford has moved up to welterweight, he’s not going to be the bigger or stronger guy anymore. If Crawford is going to excel in the 147lb weight class, he’s going to need to do it with speed and boxing skills rather than his size.
”He’s beaten a lot of guys and he’s undefeated, but everyone is beatable,” Horn said about Crawford. ”Glenn, my trainer, has watched him and he’s seen his holes in his game. As long as I can get in there and use size to my advantage, I can win the fight. He hasn’t fought anyone supreme, but he has fought some good fighters,” Horn said.
Crawford has beaten some good fighters, but as I mentioned, he hasn’t beaten any quality fighters during his career. Crawford’s best wins in his career are against these fighters:
• Ricky Burns
• Yuriorkis Gamboa
• Viktor Postol
• John Molina Jr.
• Julius Indongo
• Henry Lundy
• Thomas Dulorme
• Ray Beltran
The best of that bunch is 5’5 ½” former two-time featherweight champion Gamboa, but he was a giving away a great deal of size against Crawford when they fought each other in June 2014. By that time in Gamboa’s career, he was no longer the active fighter he’d been four years earlier back in 2010, when he was at his best. When Gamboa fought Crawford, he was fighting once a year and not looking all that good after moving up to super featherweight and then lightweight. Despite all that going against him in the Crawford fight, he was able to dominate him for the first four rounds. Gamboa even hurt Crawford. In the 5th, Gamboa was slipped on the canvas, and Crawford took advantage of it by hitting him while he was off balance. The referee scored it a knockdown even though Gamboa had slipped and was in the process of falling. After that, Gamboa got angry and made the mistake of going to war with Crawford in of boxing him. Crawford was able to take advantage of Gamboa’s anger by dominating him and then stopping him in the 9th. To make a long story short, Gamboa is easily the best opponent that Crawford has faced in his career, and he looked terrible against him in the first four rounds. The fact that Gamboa was fighting two weight classes above his natural weight of featherweight shows what kind of fighter he once was. If Crawford did the same thing, he’d be tangling with middleweights. I don’t think Crawford would do well in the 160lb weight division against fighters like Jermall Charlo and Gennady Golovkin.
There’s talk of Crawford potentially using horse-haired gloves for the Horn fight. Horn says if Crawford resorts to using puncher’s gloves made of horse-hair, he’ll do the same thing. It won’t be a one-way street for Crawford.
”If he wears horse-haired gloves, he’s going to get hit with horse-haired gloves as well,” Horn said about Crawford.
There’s a lot of pressure on Crawford in this fight on June 9. He not only needs to win, but he also has to look good in doing so. Crawford can’t run around the ring like he often does, because his promoter 86-year-old Bob Arum is trying to sell him as the next star in the welterweight division. Being a runner isn’t going to create a star out of Crawford. It might cause him to be booed out of the MGM if he runs from Horn. This isn’t Nebraska where Crawford is fighting on June 9. Crawford gets away with moving for 12 rounds in his fights in Nebraska without being booed out of the arenas from his adoring fans, but it’s a different story in Las Vegas. The boxing fans over there expect fighters to stand their ground and fight. A lot of the fans travel great distances to see the fights, and they don’t want to see someone running around the ring, sticking their tongue out at their opponents and taunting them. I’m hoping for Crawford’s sake that he realizes that he’s going to need to fight and not waste time running, sticking his tongue out and switching fighting stances nonstop. Crawford spends a lot of time using junk gimmicks in his fights to try and confuse his opponents and impress fans. If you look at Crawford’s fights, he does no better when he’s changing stances than he does when he’s in his natural orthodox stance. It’s a waste of time.
“He is just a man and in Jeff Horn, he is up against a boxer who last year beat a legend,” Horn’s trainer Glenn Rushton said to Fighthub about Crawford. ”Jeff has got the self-belief, the boxing skills, and a heart as big as Suncorp Stadium and a granite chin. You put them all together and Terence Crawford is facing a pretty potent package.’’
Horn is going to have to apply constant pressure on Crawford the entire fight and force the issue, because if he allows him to stay on the outside, he’ll jab, and pot shot all night long. The times where Crawford doesn’t look good is when he’s pressured hard and forced into constant exchanges where he loses control. Crawford is a counter puncher, so he does well when his opponents are throwing one shot at a time. But like all counter punchers, they fall apart when their opponents jump on them and throw nonstop punches the way former world champion Aaron Pryor used to do. A fighter like Pryor would be a nightmare for a counter puncher like Crawford, because he would say on top of them and force him to fight. Crawford would not be able to run from a great like Pryor, because he was very good at cutting off the ring on runners. Crawford would be forced to brawl with Pryor, and it wouldn’t end well for him. Horn needs to take a page out of Pryor’s playbook and fight Crawford the way that he would have, because that’s the only way he’s going to win the fight. Horn has got to mug Crawford all night long.
One thing that could hurt Horn’s attempts to mug Crawford is referee Robert Byrd. He’s going to be the official working the fight, and he has a history of preventing inside fighting. If Byrd breaks up the action all night long when Horn is fighting on the inside, it’s going to give Crawford a huge advantage because it’ll force the action to be fought on the outside. If Horn and Rushton are smart, they’re going to have a long talk with Byrd before the fight to let him know that they don’t want him to prevent them from fighting in close against Crawford, because it’s a huge part of his game. Horn must jump on Crawford from the opening bell, the same way he did against Manny Pacquiao, and mug him at close quarters on the inside and keep the fight in that area. Crawford will obviously try and run, but if Horn is persistent, he’ll trap Crawford repeatedly and force him to a mauling affair in the same way Andre Ward forced Sergey Kovalev to grapple with him for 12 rounds in their first fight in November 2016.
Horn’s trainer Rushton is an excellent strategy guy, who is able to pick out the flaws in different fighters and put together game plans for Jeff to beat them. By now, Rushton has seen the same flaws in Crawford’s game that I have and he has the perfect game plan for Horn to use to carry him to victory on June 9. There’s no mystery what Horn needs to do. He’s got to force Crawford to fight in close for the full 12 rounds, and not let him run around the ring or stay at range to use his reach and speed. A wrestler will always beat a boxer. That’s just the way it is. Once Horn grabs Crawford, he’ll force him to fight in a way that’s not accustomed to. From there, it’ll be a 50-50 affair instead of one stacked in Crawford’s favor.