Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier … Jeff Horn?
Brisbane’s ‘boxing schoolteacher’ is in line to do what only a select few Australians have ever done before – fight at Madison Square Garden.
Horn’s rapid rise to fame will continue when he meets Terence Crawford on April 14 in a mandatory defence of his WBO welterweight championship at the legendary New York City venue, where some of the sport’s most iconic moments have unfolded.
He will be the first Australian to headline there since Daniel Geale, who was beaten by Gennady Golovkin in their WBA (Super) and IBO middleweight title bout back in July 2014.
Some of Australia’s greatest boxing talents, like Jeff Fenech and Kostya Tszyu, never got the chance to set foot in the ring at the Manhattan boxing mecca.
Others – like Kali Meehan and Billy Dib – have fought on undercards. But in becoming a main-event attraction, Horn is entering truly rarefied air.
“There’s so much rich history that goes with it,” Horn’s promoter Dean Lonergan said.
“You’re on a global stage and also what this presents to Jeff is a massive opportunity going forward.
“If Jeff (can) establish himself in the American market, that’s what every boxer wants.
“While the Australian market is a good market, it’s not quite America, where you’ve got the biggest economy of the world, 300 million people and massive boxing support.
“I don’t think we’ve seen anything like this in a very, very long time.”
Horn, 29, has never fought outside Australia or New Zealand as a professional but travelled the world extensively as an amateur.
Lonergan is confident he will handle the occasion, just as he did when he beat Manny Pacquiao in front of more than 50,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium last year.
“If he was ever going to be intimidated it would have been (then) and we all saw how he went with that – totally relaxed, happy with what was going on,” he said.
“Madison Square Garden only holds 22,000. I don’t think the crowd size is going to worry him.
“If the crowd boo him – and I don’t think they will – he’ll just rise to the occasion and that’ll give him some added motivation.”
Lonergan expects to sign official contracts for the fight within two weeks.