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Jeff Horn on Comeback Trail Against Anthony Mundine

Australia’s Jeff Horn has encountered a whirlwind two years in his professional boxing career, rising up through the welterweight ranks in his native Australia to eventually become world champion and then ultimately lose his title in quick succession.

Horn rallied to an impressive unbeaten record in his first 19 outings in the paid ranks, following a solid amateur background Down Under, winning a host of belts on home soil and swiftly climbing the career ladder with his impressive progression.

‘The Hornet’ also gathered up a huge following in Australia, becoming a massive fan favourite and attracting plenty of spectators to each and every one of his bouts across the country.

After such a gallant rise through the 147 pounds division, Horn then secured a mammoth world title shot against the legendary Filipino fighter Manny Pacquiao back in July 2017. This came on the back of an admirable December 2016 victory over South African challenger Ali Funeka, as Horn secured his then held WBO Inter-Continental welterweight strap with a sixth-round technical knock out triumph at the Vector Arena in Auckland, New Zealand.

That set up the decisive meeting with the sport’s only ever eight-division world title-holder Pacquiao at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, again drawing in an enormous crowd at the prestigious outdoor venue in his own backyard.

It was ‘Pacman’ that had entered that momentous fight night Down Under and for many he looked to have secured a defence of his then WBO welterweight crown, but the judges at ringside favoured the home fighter as Horn rallied to a famous unanimous decision success in front of his rapturous support.

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Manny Pacquiao by Mike Gonzalez (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Following the most impressive night of his career against Pacquiao, ‘the Hornet’ didn’t shy away from taking on the best there was to face in a booming division in the sport. Terence Crawford has risen to prominence over the last few years, becoming one of the leading pound-for-pound stars in boxing with his dynamic displays and eye-catching victories.

Horn was pitted against ‘Bud’ earlier this year, as the courageous Australian went in search of an even more admirable triumph on his travels to America, his maiden outing away from his native country. It wasn’t to be though, with Crawford proving why he’s arguably the best fighter in the sport today, as the former undisputed light-welterweight champion clinched a 147 pounds crown by dethroning Horn in June.

‘Bud’ was simply too good as he dispatched a brave, battling Horn inside nine rounds at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas to become a three-weight world title holder. Horn may have lost his world title but he had proven he belongs among the top combatants in the division and he will soon look to edge closer to further success when he returns to the squared-circle.

Oddschecker finds Horn to be best-priced odds-on 1/6 favourite to come out on top in this fascinating match-up against his fellow countryman Anthony Mundine on November 30th.

Fellow Australian Mundine looks set for a tough test here against the much more youthful and active Horn, with the experienced veteran preparing for what will be his 57th professional ring outing. The now 43-year-old is seemingly a great comeback opponent for Horn, who will be aiming to bounce back from that heavy disappointing defeat at the hands of Crawford earlier this year.

Mundine is a former world champion too though, having previously held the WBA super-middleweight on two occasions between 2003 and 2008. He also held the lesser regarded IBO middleweight belt from 2009 to 2010, after a former career as a rugby league player as well.

The ageing former world title holder is undoubtedly nearing the end of his admirable time in the sport of boxing though, after many famous fights with the likes of Shane Mosley, Daniel Geale, Danny Green, Joshua Clottey, Mikkel Kessler and Sam Soliman.

Mundine ended a run of back to back defeats to both Charles Hatley and Danny Green across 2017 when overcoming Tommy Browne inside just two rounds back in January of this year. He rallied to that impressive quick-fire triumph at the Star City Casino in Sydney, getting himself back to winning ways quickly.

The well-travelled veteran will know he’s up against it when the opening bell sounds in his next encounter with fellow former world titleholder Horn, but this also represents a huge chance to put himself back in the spotlight after a series of damaging losses at the back end of his long-standing career.

Mundine, the New South Wales native, has now tasted defeat on eight occasions in his distinguished career, which started way back at the turn of the Millennium in 2000 in Sydney. Another likely loss in this upcoming all-Aussie battle could, therefore, spell the end for the veteran fighter as a result.

At 43 years of age and after so many gruelling fights throughout the years in his career, Mundine looks on the verge of retirement in the coming months and a loss to Horn may signal that move in the next few weeks.

For Horn, the aim will be to see off whatever threat is posed by his fellow countryman in their Brisbane battle and then move on to the bigger names in the welterweight division once again. A rematch with Manny Pacquiao had been talked about for some time beforehand but that now looks out of the picture, as ‘Pacman’ gets himself ready to face the controversial character and four-division titlist Adrien Broner early next year.

The 147 pounds division is currently filled with plenty of dangerous and top-level fighters, while others are pushing for a title shot among the other stars. Horn can put his firmly among those bigger bouts once again if he can earn a strong showing against Mundine and continue to rebuild from that defeat at the hands of Crawford earlier this year.

Horn is the type of contender that fellow world title hopefuls may not be desiring to face along their path towards earning a title shot, having pushed Pacquiao all the way and ultimately beat him before falling to ‘Bud’ Crawford.

The welterweight division currently boasts Crawford as the WBO title holder, after dethroning Horn and then most recently making a successful maiden defence against Jose Benavidez Jr on home territory. The unbeaten 31-year-old proved he was a class above his first title challenger by dropping and then eventually stopping him in the dying moments of the 12th and final round of their well-awaited clash last October.

Fellow American Errol Spence Jr is currently the IBF champion and has long been tipped to face off with Crawford in what would undoubtedly be one of the best and most highly-anticipated match-ups that could be made in the sport today.

Although, that unfortunately looks unlikely of happening anytime soon as Spence Jr presently prepares to trade leather with Mexican-American challenger Mikey Garcia, who is making a daunting jump up in weight to contest for the welterweight crown. Crawford is also rumoured to be facing Luis Collazo next year, perhaps leaving a future fight with Spence open for Australia’s Horn.

Meanwhile, Shawn Porter is the reigning WBC titleholder after he managed to outpoint former champion Danny Garcia over 12 rounds in what was a thrilling meeting earlier in September. The now 31-year-old ‘Showtime’ Porter is also scheduled to face off with Cuban contender Yordenis Ugas next March in what will be his first title defence at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is another possible route that Horn could put himself in line for if he continues to secure reputable victories after hopefully dealing with Mundine.

Elsewhere in the welterweight division, the WBA currently hold two current world champions due to the usual boxing politics of modern day. Keith Thurman is still regarded as the full WBA ‘Super’ champion despite having not fought since outpointing Danny Garcia in March of last year.

The 29-year-old from Florida has had to endure plenty of injury problems which have kept him on the sidelines but frustratingly for fans he hasn’t looked close to returning to the ring, subsequently holding up the division.

Although, ‘One Time’ Thurman is now set to finally make his return to action on January 26th to go up against fellow American Josesito Lopez, defending his still owned belt in the process. Spence has long been calling out Thurman, with the latter having been accused of ‘ducking’ him since rising to prominence.

It’s Horn’s former opponent Pacquiao that holds the WBA ‘Regular’ strap, a far less regarded title in any division, but he will put that on the line next February when he tackles former Floyd Mayweather Jr protege Broner on American turf.

Mayweather hasn’t entirely gone away from the sport just yet either, with constant rumours he will return for certain exhibition bouts, but his time at the top level is assuredly over. But there are a host of other top names vying for better rankings and aiming to climb the career ladder at 147 pounds.

Over in the United Kingdom, there is former light-welterweight world champion Amir Khan, who has recently been busy on his return to the ring after taking time away since that crushing defeat to current middleweight kingpin Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.

Kell Brook, a former welterweight titleholder, is also in the mix and has been pushing for an all-British scrap with Khan at some point next year. That is starting to look more and more likely with each passing month, but Horn would also provide a stern test for either of those names at some stage across 2019 in the near future.

There are also the likes of former titleholder Danny Garcia, who is in a similar position to Horn in attempting to return to the top level after a damaging loss, while Jessie Vargas, Lamont Peterson, Lucas Matthysse, Andre Berto and Jose Benavidez Jr are all in the mix of potential future opponents for ‘the Hornet’ if he wants to fully rebuild his stature and reputation at the weight.

Before he can think of any future match-ups with the bigger names in the division and potential future world title bouts once again, Horn must now concentrate on the task in hand and man in front of him. That man is Anthony Mundine and, despite his age and longevity in the sport, he can’t be taken lightly in the grand scheme of proceedings.

While Horn will enter the ring for their nationally awaited fight as the sizeable favourite to prevail, any potential slip-ups would spell disaster for his own career prospects in the long-term. A loss here to ageing foe Mundine would see Horn’s hopes for another crack at world honours virtually disappear into thin air, leaving him with no real opportunities on the horizon.

Therefore, he will need to be at his absolute best in order to avoid any possible slip-ups that would cost him dearly and therefore overcome Mundine in the same style that he did against Gary Corcoran in December last year.

Horn was in top form in what was his maiden title defence last year after beating the legendary Pacquiao and before stumbling to defeat against Crawford. That vicious display saw him beat up, grind down and eventually stop the British title challenger from the English capital of London.

It was in the 11th round of their match-up that Horn got the better of Corcoran in a thrilling but one-sided battle. Mundine is also a tough competitor and could take proceedings deep into the latter rounds in this imminent clash.

But Horn looks more than capable of getting the job done solidly in this all-Aussie encounter, as the former world champion attempts to take a step closer back towards the pinnacle of the welterweight division with success here.

Can Horn become world champion again? He has the grit and determination to do so but he must first shine Down Under in his latest ring outing before focusing on that goal.

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