Rob Brant vs. Jeff Horn possible for winter fight
By Mike Smith: Former WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn could be moving up to middleweight to challenge WBA ‘regular’ 160 lb champion Rob Brant in this winter in Brisbane, Australia. Horn (19-1-1, 13 KOs) recently moved up to middleweight to defeat former two-time WBA super middleweight champion Anthony Mundine (48-9, 28 KOs) by a first round knockout three months ago on November 30 in Brisbane.
Although the 43-year-old Mundine had been knocked out before during his career, he’d never been stopped so quickly as that.
Facing Brant (25-1, 17 KOs) for his WBA secondary middleweight strap would be a big step up in class for Horn. It’s one thing beating an older fighter like Mundine, who is no longer in the prime of his career, and quite another thing to try and defeat a very good fighter in 28-year-old Brant. Many boxing fans see Brant as the weakest link among the current four world champions at middleweight, but he’s still an exceptional fighter, who is capable of throwing over 1,000 punches per fight. None of the other champions at 160 have shown the ability to throw that many shots. Brant’s engine is extraordinary. Horn would have to find a way to neutralize Brant’s high punch output for him to have a chance of beating him. If the fight comes down to work rate, Horn has little shot at defeating Brant.
Horn, 31, looked powerful and fast at middleweight. The 2012 Olympian Horn had always been considered a huge welterweight, and it was likely that he was sacrificing power and stamina by having to melt down to 147 lbs to make weight for his fights in that weight class.
“We thought Jeff went really well at the higher weight (against Mundine),” Horn’s promoter Dean Lonergan said to smh.com.au. “We’ve only just started discussions…We think it’s a great style for Jeff and would make for one hell of a fight. He’s an incredibly busy fighter and it just comes down to whether we can make the deal work…we would do it in Australia but we’ll see what happens.”
In his first defense of his WBA title, Brant defeated challenger Khasan Baysangurov by an 11th round knockout last Friday at the Grand Casino, in Hinckley, Minnesota. Brant overwhelmed his over-matched 21-year-old opponent Baysangurov with his high work rate to easily retain his title. Brant recently captured the World Boxing Association middleweight title with a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision over champion Ryota Murata last October in Las Vegas, Nevada. Brant threw over 1,000 punches in beating the 2012 Olympic gold medalist Murata in that fight. At the time, it wasn’t clear whether Brant was capable of throwing a massive amount of punches like that. In Brant’s last fight against Baysangurov, he once again had a high work rate in outworking his opponent until the fight was finally stopped in the 11th round.
Horn’s promoter Lonergan has worked with Top Rank in the past, so it’s quite possible they can workout a deal for Brant to come to Brisbane to defend his WBA title against Horn. The only question is would Top Rank and Horn be open to giving away home advantage to Horn by coming over to Brisbane, Australia to fight him possibly at the Suncorp Stadium. Former Top Rank star Manny Pacquiao fought Horn in Brisbane in July 2017, and lost a controversial 12 round unanimous decision. Horn, 5’9, used his size to rough up the smaller Pacquiao in beating him by the scores 117-111, 115-113 and 115-113. It’s unclear whether Horn would be able to use the same approach against the 6’0 1/2″ Brant, who would have a 3 1/2″ inch height and 2″ reach advantage over Horn.
Horn wouldn’t likely be able to beat Brant with his size. He would have to try and beat him with his power. Horn isn’t noted for being a huge puncher, so it could be difficult for him to defeat Brant using that approach to the fight. The only fighter has defeated Brant during his career is former WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Juergen Braehmer (50-3, 36 KOs), who defeated him by a wide 12 round unanimous decision in October 2017 in the World Boxing Super Series super middleweight tournament. The southpaw Braehmer, 5’11”, who is shorter than Brant, beat him by fighting on the outside, jabbing and moving around the ring to out-box him. Braehmer dominated Brant with his technical boxing skills rather than using his power. Braehmer was used to fighting bigger guys than Brant at light heavyweight, and he had no problems with Brant’s size or his punching power in that fight. Horn isn’t as tall as Braehmer, and he doesn’t have his mobility, jab, southpaw stance of his technical skill set. It would be a considerably tougher task for Horn to try and defeat Brant than it was for Braehmer, who had much more experience, both at the pro and the amateur level than him.
With Horn being a popular fighter in Australia, it’s possible that Longergan will be able to come up with enough money to lure Brant to come over to Brisbane to take the fight with the former WBO 147 lb champion. Brant obviously would love to fight Saul Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin but it’s unlikely those fights are going to happen this year if at all. GGG is ranked #2 with the WBA, but it’s believed that he’s waiting for a trilogy fight with Canelo, and he probably won’t be interested in fighting Brant for his WBA ‘regular’ middleweight strap. Canelo has the main WBA title, and it would be a bad look on Golovkin’s part to go after the secondary belt with that organization. If Brant doesn’t take the Horn fight, then Top Rank would likely be looking at having him defend against someone like Esquiva Falcao or even having a rematch with Murata. There would be money for Brant to make in a second fight against Murata if he fancied facing him again. As one sided as their previous fight was, it’s difficult to imagine Murata wanting a second fight with Brant unless he were able to figure out how to minimize his high work rate by using movement. Murata doesn’t have the fighting style to match Brant in throwing 1,000+ punches in a fight.
Horn was co-promoted by Top Rank in the past, but the contract expired following his ninth round knockout loss to Terence Crawford last June in Las Vegas, Nevada. Crawford easily beat Horn in that fight by out-boxing and surprisingly out-punching him as well. Brant isn’t quite as technical as Crawford, but he’s still highly skilled. Brant would be a tougher fight for Horn due to his size advantage, and hi work rate.
It would be a big decision to make for Brant whether he should take the fight and risk possibly losing his title against Horn in Australia. If the fight goes to the scorecards, will Brant be given a fair shake by the judges? What about Horn’s physical style of fighting? Will he get away with roughing up Brant without being warned and penalized by the referee if he goes overboard with that style of fighting? Brant would have to be ready to adapt to whatever approach Horn uses in this fight Brant would be the visiting fighter, and that could mean that he would need to put in a dominating performance to get the decision if it goes to the scorecards. The way that Brant looked in his last fight against Baysangurov, Horn would have a hard time making it the full 12 rounds against him. Pacquiao had Horn close to being stopped in the 9th round of their fight when he turned up his work rate to high in throwing a lot of punches. Horn was beaten up in that round, and looked ready to be finished off at the start of the 10th. However, Pacquiao punched himself out and was unable to continue to throw a lot of shots to finish the job. Brant wouldn’t tire out in the same way, and that could be bad news for Horn. Brant hits at least as hard as Pacquiao if no harder. He’s just not as fast as him.