Boxing Preview: Jeff Horn v Gary Corcoran

It’s the Battle of Brisbane 2 between Londoner Gary “Hellraiser” Corcoran (17-1) and WBO world welterweight champion Jeff “The Hornet” Horn (17-0-1).

The Australian gets the home advantage in the Queensland capital against the Wembley puncher, which helped him enormously last July when triumphing over Manny Pacquiao at the Suncorp Stadium in the first Battle of Brisbane.

The visiting eight-weight world champion was on the receiving end of a very dubious decision, where it seemed like Horn’s punches must have counted as two on the judges’ scorecards whenever they infrequently landed.

Horn imposed his superior size on the older man early on before the future Hall of Famer stormed back to almost stop the Aussie in the ninth-round. ‘The Hornet’ weathered the storm somehow and rallied back in the later rounds to win a unanimous decision, a verdict that has courted some controversy among the boxing fraternity.

The 29-year-old, who has also obtained notable stoppage wins over former world champion Randall Bailey and world title challenger Ali Funeka in 2016, enters December’s contest with a record of 17 wins, no losses and one draw, with 11 of those triumphs coming inside the distance.

The ex-school teacher is an aggressive, come-forward fighter who is rough and rugged, and has been known to use his head and elbows to his advantage.

Aussies were unsure of who Corcoran was, at first, but Brits know the “Hellraiser” very well, especially after his epic battle with Welshman Liam Williams for the British super-welterweight belt in July 2016, resulting in his one and only career defeat.

The North Londoner is one of nine boxing brothers! Gary is the seventh oldest and personally claims to have been the worst of them all when starting off, which is backed up by all his siblings becoming International amateur boxers with either England or Ireland, except for Gary.

Despite this, the last one of the Corcoran’s to be carded actually became a standout amateur, winning the prestigious Haringey Box Cup twice at two different weights.

He couldn’t wait to turn pro and soon debuted on the same night in 2011 when Scotland’s Ricky Burns’ beat Aussie Michael Katsidis for the interim WBO world lightweight title at Wembley Arena.

Trained by Frank Greaves, Gary has fought 16 of his 18 professional fights in London and once each in neighbouring Wales and Northern Ireland; December 13 will be his first fight outside of the UK.

The 26-year-old, signed to Frank Warren, is a two-weight WBO Inter-Continental champion, first winning the super-welterweight strap against English middleweight titlist Danny Butler in March 2016 and then adding the welterweight version – previously held by Jeff Horn – in his last fight against unbeaten Larry Ekundayo, a win which resulted in the shot at the WBO world title.

Facing an unbeaten fighter in Horn will not scare Corcoran, in fact it will spur him on. During his six-year paid career he has ruined the undefeated record of three top prospects – Ricky Godding (21-0-1) in July 2015 and then Rick Skelton (13-0) in the next fight in September 2015 – both at Wembley Arena; and his latest fight against 2012 Prizefighter winner Larry Ekundayo (12-0) last July at the Copper Box Arena.

Ranked no.10 with the World Boxing Organisation, Corcoran has vowed to upset Horn’s plans for a rematch with the 11-time world champion next year.

Australian hero Jeff Horn has said that it’s been a blur since winning the world title and it may have affected him, as he looks to line up lucrative unification fights in 2018 with either Spence or Crawford, seemingly dismissing Corcoran as a stepping stone to money-spinning Vegas fights.

With his attention elsewhere, Horn’s heavily pregnant wife will be ringside but is expected to go into labour at any day now. That must be playing on his mind as he tries to focus for this fight, and what would it do to him if he sees her being whisked away to hospital during the bout!

His weight has been an issue during his latest training camp and, reportedly, still has a few pounds to lose, whereas his widely dismissed opponent has been on weight and sporting a toned figure since the fight was announced two months ago.

Horn is overlooking Corcoran completely, choosing him over his stablemate Bradley Skeete as an easier option. Team Hornet claim they chose Corcoran over Skeete due to the fight being more exciting for the fans, labelling the no.4 ranked Skeete as boring.

I believe they picked Corcoran as an easy defence ahead of huge paydays in 2018, thinking the fighter from North London will be predictable, beatable and just a formality.

However, the Wembley man will surprise Team Hornet and a lot of people this Wednesday. He has sparred countless rounds with ex-WBA world welterweight champion David Avaneysan as preparation for Horn and has been improving his jab.

He is in a much better shape than Horn and lives the life, whereas the Aussie piles weight on between fights, admitting his love and weakness for chocolate and bad foods. Gary’s indulgence is a steak with sweet potato fries, which is actually a very healthy sporting meal!

Gary’s pressure will be relentless, as will the world champion’s, but the underdog will shock a few by opting to box when he wants to. Both fighters don’t like to be pushed back so these two will meet in the middle and there will be fireworks. The pace will be set high, but, in terms of fitness, Corcoran’s engine will be far better than Horn’s.

As the underdog, there will be no expectation on him to win and he will go into the fight without any weight on his shoulders, unlike the newest national hero he will be facing.

Neither has a ‘lights out’, fight-ending punch in their arsenal so I expect this fight to last the full 12-round duration. If a stoppage comes then it will likely be to Horn, which I could envisage as a premature, prejudiced piece of refereeing, without being too cynical, of course, but I’m reminded of how he ‘won’ the world title to begin with.

Remaining positive and hopeful for a level playing field, I predict that Corcoran will do the business as the underdog down under and win by unanimous decision.

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