Jeff Horn hits the bag in Las Vegas. Picture: Peter Wallis
Jeff Horn hits the bag in Las Vegas. Picture: Peter Wallis

Choc shock: Mundine backs rival Horn

THE greatest figures in Australian boxing are all backing Jeff Horn against Terence Crawford in his world welterweight title defence on Sunday as master coach Johnny Lewis urges the Brisbane hero to "unleash hell" in the opening three rounds.

Lewis famously incited Kostya Tszyu to attack another cocky American, Zab Judah, at the same fight venue - the MGM Grand - in 2001, leaving the trash talker from New York jelly-legged by the second round.

Lewis is urging Horn to turn Sunday's battle into a "real dogfight" saying the world champ can use his size, strength and proven tenacity to grind Crawford down.

And Lewis has been backed by Aussie greats Jeff Fenech, Danny Green, Barry Michael and Anthony Mundine, who all say Horn can knock out both Crawford and the bookmakers who give the world champ virtually no hope against the undefeated American.

Lewis says Horn will be hailed as the greatest boxer in the world if he can stun Crawford, who has not lost since his amateur days 10 years ago.

"Everyone loves Jeff Horn because he is a beautiful person, but boy can he fight," Lewis said. "He has to go after Crawford early with everything."

Lewis would always advise his boxers when facing slick opponents: "If you can't hit his chin smash him in the sternum, then hook him in the liver. Hard. Real hard."

That's his advice to Horn.

Legendary trainer Johnny Lewis is in Horn’s corner.
Legendary trainer Johnny Lewis is in Horn’s corner.

"Jeff doesn't have to fight dirty but anywhere above the groin where he sees skin he has to bang Crawford hard. And often," he said.

"Kostya overpowered Zab Judah and Jeff Horn can do it on Sunday. Sharp boxers like Crawford can be rattled by constant pressure and once their rhythm goes, so does all their confidence and their defence."

Fenech, Lewis's greatest fighter, said: "I believe Jeff can beat Crawford so long as he gets a fair shake from the American officials.

"He has to be evasive as he's coming in because Crawford is a sharp shooter but if he can stay on top of Crawford early and not let him settle he will bring the world title belt back home with him to Australia.

"Jeff Horn is not an ordinary fighter. He is really something special. A super talent and he can win the fight."

Danny Green describes Horn as "a real terrier".

"Crawford is not super-fast," he said, "but he relies on his superb placement and timing which is exactly what gives Jeff every chance.

"Jeff is so unconventional and unorthodox in his attack."

Jeff Horn lands a body shot on Anthony Mundine during sparring. Picture: Annette Dew
Jeff Horn lands a body shot on Anthony Mundine during sparring. Picture: Annette Dew

Barry Michael, perhaps the toughest boxer Australia has produced, said: "Jeff has to jump on Crawford at the first bell, get up on his chest and stick to him like glue."

Anthony Mundine, who is hoping for a fight with Horn later in the year added: "Crawford is a beast but Jeff has such an unusual style that he can pull off the upset.

"Jeff gets hit a few times, but he's tough, unconventional and awkward. He has to make it a real brawl like he did when he beat Pacquiao and he has to disguise his attacks.

"He can't come in square on. He has to feint with his feet a lot to keep Crawford off balance and guessing."