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Behind The Gloves: Horn vs Crawford

An in-depth look at tomorrow's WBO welterweight title fight.

By Aaron Cooper   - @intuboxingfm

Tomorrow night marks the long-awaited entry into the welterweight division for Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford as he squares off against Jeff ‘The Hornet’ Horn for the Australian’s WBO welterweight title live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in the heart of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Both men take their undefeated records in the ring with them, and barring an unlikely draw ‘someone’s O has got to go’. The popular opinion amongst boxing’s journalistic elite is that it will be Horn who suffers his first professional defeat. Whilst, I do agree with this prediction, one thing is for certain. Jeff Horn isn’t going to go down without one hell of a fight.

In July of last year, Horn pulled off one of the biggest upsets in recent boxing history by beating Manny Pacquaio in front of more than 50,000 spectators at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. Horn was awarded the decision over the eight-weight boxing great, but the decision will always remain a controversial one.

Now he aims to produce another huge upset as he steps into the ring with a man who has already collected belts at lightweight (including the lineal title). And cleaned up at 140-pounds, becoming only the third four-belt undisputed champion in the history of the sport.

Tale of the Tape

You would expect that Horn would be the bigger man having campaigned at 147-pounds his entire career. But with pictures of Crawford tipping the scales at 177 pounds on social media in the past, I'm not so sure he will be.

Crawford stands an inch shorter than Horn at 5 feet 9, but he has a two-inch reach advantage over ‘The Hornet’. Horn was able to use his size to bully Pacquaio at times, this is something I very much doubt we will see against Crawford. But if he is to have any chance of winning this is something he NEEDS to employ.

Tactics

Let’s begin with the champion. There are many that forget Jeff Horn has an amateur pedigree. In fact, it was Horn’s quarter-final run at London’s 2012 Olympics that saw Duco Events, Dean Lonergan sign him. No he doesn’t have the pugilistic prowess of his opponent, but I believe he does possess underrated speed and if the correct tactics are employed, Horn could make Crawford’s nights work far less straightforward than many are making it out to be.

Horn’s trainer Glenn Rushton doesn’t seem to think that Crawford’s chin will be able to withstand his charge’s power. It’s true Horn will be the biggest and strongest foe of Crawford’s career. But can he get close enough to give the Nebraska man a true chin check? One thing I do foresee that Crawford will be forced to deal with is Horn’s physicality. Whilst he would lose a battle in the out and out sweet science of boxing to Crawford his roughhouse tactics will no doubt challenge Crawford in ways we have never seen before. Horn needs to get Crawford’s attention and respect early. He is also going to have to be prepared to take shots on the way in to get his own off. As we’ve all seen from his previous bouts, the Australian champ is durable, with an awkward rhythm but he’s dirty too. I expect to see plenty of holding with some shoulders and the odd elbow thrown in for good measure.

As I've already alluded to Horn does hold a size advantage. But that is where his advantages cease. He will be stood across the ring from one of THE best fighters in the sport today, and one who will not be all too happy that his inactivity has seen Vasyl Lomachenko leapfrog him in the mythical pound for pound rankings.

Terence Crawford is possibly the best problem solver in Boxing, regardless of weight. He really is the top dog in that sense. If you were to go back and look at his fights against Julius Indongo, Felix Diaz and Viktor Postol you’ll see him turn the tides in two of the three of those bouts.

At his brilliant best he is a slick, smooth switch-hitter that will break you down, take your heart and crush any spirit that you may have had left. Watching Crawford fight brings a sense of appreciation for the skills on show and how quickly he can adapt but can send chills down your spine to see how cold, calculated and downright violent he can actually be.

Take a look at the Postol fight in which he was crowned Undisputed Super-Lightweight Champion. Crawford came out fighting as a southpaw. Always on his toes, he bounced around the ring changing direction all the time. This forced Postol to lunge in, and quite frankly miss with the vast majority of his shots. Crawford’s mobility and timing sending Postol into a daze as he couldn’t keep up. But then, he cranked up the violent dial and dropped Postol twice on his way to a wide unanimous decision. But, you got the feeling that Crawford could have ended that fight any time he wanted.

Against Diaz, he forced his opponent to commit. In the early rounds, Diaz refused to engage at any time other than when he thought he could give a shot without taking one in return. But Crawford closed the distance, forcing Diaz to trade but was overwhelmed at every turn. Diaz DID catch Crawford a few times, pretty damn clean shots too. But Crawford took them and fought fire with an inferno. Diaz’s corner mercifully pulling their man out at the end of the 10th round.

Verdict

I can’t see anything but a Crawford win. Horn is confident, as a fighter defending their world title needs to and should be. But delusions that Crawford being a smaller man and ergo can’t hurt him are foolhardy. As I’ve said Crawford adapts better and faster than any fighter in the sport. My sense is that Crawford will use Horn’s face as target practice before being stopped in the championship rounds unless his corner hasn’t pulled him out before that point.