Jeff Horn can sell his old Camry now — parked outside his humble Acacia Ridge home — as he has guaranteed himself a multimillion-dollar future as potentially the richest Australian sportsman of all time.
And it couldn’t happen to a nicer bloke.
As Dr Ben Manion was inserting seven stitches into Horn’s busted right eyebrow in a dressing-room inside Suncorp Stadium on Sunday afternoon, and as Horn’s younger brother Ben held a packet of ice against the boxer’s swollen face, the humble hero asked me to thank everyone at The Courier-Mail for believing in him.
— Grantlee Kieza (@Kieza_cmail) July 2, 2017
In 2013, I wrote the first report in our sport pages about the young schoolteacher who had been bullied as a kid and had a dream to fight Manny Pacquiao.
Horn finally realised that dream yesterday, taking our readers on a remarkable journey with him.
After yesterday’s thrilling, big-hearted victory as Horn overcame the odds and a frightening ninth-round when he was badly hurt, he said he was now ready to repeat Sunday’s effort against the biggest earner in his sport.
An emotional Horn called for a fight with Floyd Mayweather, who made $200 million beating Pacquiao on points in 2015 — in a far less entertaining bout.
Immediately after ring announcer Michael Buffer bellowed the words Horn had been desperate to hear — “The winner and NEW world champion …” – Horn said: ”One quick thing first: This is just having a bit of a dig overseas to Floyd Mayweather, but that this is no joke.
“Which one does he want: The walking stick or the gloves?”
A huge cheer erupted as Horn said: “Come have a real fight.”
“Mayweather says he’s the best boxer in the world, but his next fight is against a UFC fighter (Conor McGregor). If he wants to have a real fight, here I am.
“I just beat Manny Pacquiao and I believe I can beat Floyd Mayweather too.”
Horn had agreed to a rematch clause stipulated by Pacquiao for a return fight at Suncorp in November.
It was a multi-million insurance policy on exactly the boilover that unfolded in such dramatic fashion.
Whether Pacquiao, 38, and with so many political commitments as a high-ranking Filipino senator, really wants to put himself through a repeat of yesterday’s ordeal when both sides of his head were split open, remains to be seen.
But Horn says he’s ready for it.
“I’d love to fight again,’’ he said. “I wanted to put on an exciting bout today. I wanted people to see boxing in the best possible light as a great, exciting sport.
“There was no trash talk in this fight and I think we gave boxing a good advertisement.”
Promoter Dean Lonergan said the return fight was there “if Manny wants to go again”.
“It was just an unbelievable performance from Jeff,” Lonergan said.
“To fight that well against Manny, a true legend of the sport, was amazing. But we always knew he was capable of doing that.
“The fight was an incredible spectacle and a great piece of sporting history for Brisbane and Australia.
“To have that Brisbane crowd, that noise behind him … that just made a difference for Jeff.
“There would be a lot of logistics, a lot of discussions to have before there is a Horn-Pacquiao II, but I’ll confirm again there is a rematch clause for Brisbane in Manny’s contract.
“You cannot underestimate what this has done for Jeff’s profile and appeal worldwide.”
Mayweather, 40, will make more than $100 million by fighting UFC star Conor McGregor in his next fight in August in Las Vegas and Horn wants a piece of the world champ, whose nickname is “Money”.
He said his career had been built upon taking challenges no one thought he could accomplish.
How could a bullied schoolboy for instance, ever find the heart and the power to out-slug someone like Manny Pacquiao?