IN an astonishing boost to his chances in Australia’s biggest ever fight, Jeff Horn will be as much as 7kg heavier than Manny Pacquiao when they enter the ring at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday week.
The massive weight advantage will give Brisbane’s Fighting Schoolteacher an enormous headstart over the 38-year-old Filipino world welterweight champ.
And after the most dynamic sparring session of his life on Thursday, Horn looks a good bet to score one of the great upsets in Australian sporting history.
Horn was simply brilliant in a 12-round gym war at Stretton with world No. 4 junior-welterweight (63kg) fighter Czar Amonsot as he finished his sparring for the fight, relieved at last that he had not suffered any last-minute injuries.
The pair had slugged it out for 66 rounds over the last three weeks, but Horn took the battle to a whole new level, firing laser-like right-hand leads and long-range body attacks that he had previously kept largely under wraps.
He showed extraordinary balance, timing and foot speed in his new orange and black Everlast “Hornet” boots that he will wear for the fight.
Horn (right) unleashes on Filipino light welterweight Czar Amonsot during sparring.
It was the best I’ve seen him look in his whole career but Horn also knows he is facing the biggest challenge of his life.
“I’m jumping out of my skin,” Horn said. “I don’t usually spar that well close to a fight but I’m really happy with my work. They’re talking 50,000-60,000 people at Suncorp and the bigger the crowd the better I fight.”
Amonsot soaked up one huge shot after another but bravely soldiered on, giving Horn a taste of the Pacquiao power and aggression.
In the 12th and final round, Horn unleashed hell for a cheering crowd of onlookers that included his parents, grandparents and brother as well as his fitness guru Dundee Kim and former world heavyweight title challenger Alex Leapai, who is predicting a Horn victory.
Horn said there was no great secret to his battle plan.
“It’s all about timing with Pacquiao,’’ Horn said. “It’s all about throwing him off his game with that awkward timing I have and then nailing him with the big right first chance I get.”
Horn (left) hunts down Czar Amonsot.
As is normal at this stage of his preparation, Horn has 4kg to lose to make the welterweight limit of 66.7kg. Pacquiao is already under the weight at about 65kg. By fight time Horn will be as much as 72kg.
He says the weight advantage – more than 10 per cent over his opponent – will be significant in punching power and physical strength for what promises to be a fast-paced punchers’ duel.
Horn’s trainer Glenn Rushton was delighted with the final sparring session.
“It was a war in there, and we are preparing for war on July 2,” Rushton said.
“I’m just glad he came through the three weeks of tough work against Czar without any little injuries because they always seem to happen in the last round of the final spar. Jeff will now go up another gear again on the day of the fight.”
Pacquiao has gone up a gear, too.
At his training camp in General Santos City in the south of the Philippines, he has been savage in his recent sparring sessions with Sydney’s George Kambosos and in the last week he has twice decked Mexican Adrian Young.
Already 44,000 tickets have been sold for Horn-Pacquiao but 11,000 seats remain from $39.