Horn on high alert for Crawford punch
SEVEN days out from take-off, world welterweight champion Jeff Horn enters the most crucial week of his long campaign to beat cocky American challenger Terence Crawford.
Horn, trainer Glenn Rushton and strength and conditioning coach Dundee Kim will use this week to iron out any flaws in Horn's armour as he prepares for what could be the biggest sporting moment for any Australian in 2018.
The WBO titleholder, his family and corner team, leave for Las Vegas next Wednesday (May 30) after the most arduous training sessions of his four-month preparation to defend the belt he tore from Manny Pacquiao at Suncorp Stadium last July.
He will fight Crawford on June 10 (Australian time) at the MGM Grand Casino.
Horn will focus on his defence in close over the next week, making sure he does not stand too front-on as he attacks, an offensive glitch that almost spelled disaster in the ninth round against Pacquiao and caused him problems in his December title defence against London gypsy Gary Corcoran.
Sparring with American Ray Robinson over the last two weeks has also shown Horn that he cannot afford to drop his hands an inch as he punches to the body.
Crawford and his beefy trainer Brian McIntyre say that working with Robinson, who beat Crawford as an amateur, is no help at all, with McIntyre tweeting recently "F*** Jeff Horn … you still have time to back out the fight.''
But while confident Horn can score a dramatic stoppage and hand Crawford his first professional defeat, trainer Glenn Rushton concedes that the Nebraska challenger is "brilliant'' and "very dangerous''.
"We can't afford to let Crawford nail Jeff with a big shot, because once Crawford lands a heavy punch that's when he goes from being a very elusive, defensive fighter into an extremely dangerous hunter,'' Rushton said.
"His punches are laser sharp, pinpoint accurate and he throws them very fast and in combinations.
"Jeff will be going out there to put Crawford under enormous pressure and to throw him off his game.''
Ray Robinson, who has so far sparred 20 rounds with Horn over two sessions and has 20 more rounds to go, said Horn has a great chance of unsettling Crawford.
Robinson beat Crawford at the US amateur titles in Colorado Springs in 2005 and said while Crawford doesn't have Horn's power or high volume work-rate he does have deadly accurate counter shots.
And it is the one big surprise power punch that Horn knows he has to avoid at all costs in the fight that will pay him $2.5 million.
The "Fighting Schoolteacher'' will go through an intense 12-round session on the punching mitts with Dundee Kim at Yeronga and another 12-rounds with the Korean-born fitness guru on Friday.
On Thursday, Horn will spar 10 rounds with Robinson, repeating the same schedule in his last Australian training session for the fight on Tuesday.
Rushton said while Horn has the edge in power he backs his spirit over any other fighter in the world and says Horn will surprise American fans with his boxing skills.
"Crawford and his team have described Jeff as a crude brawler and lacking in skills,'' Rushton said.
"They forget that after just four years in the sport Jeff made the quarter-finals of the London Olympics. Despite his reputation, Terence couldn't make the American Olympic team.''
Crawford's promoter Bob Arum, who has been the most powerful man in boxing since his days promoting Muhammad Ali more than 50 years ago, says Crawford is the better boxer "no question''.
"But when you talk about size, strength and determination you have to give Horn a very good chance," Arum said. "I don't know who will win this fight, a lot will depend on the determination of the two boxers.
"All I know is that it will be a good, hard fought competitive match. The winner of this fight will be considered the big superstar of the welterweight division."