AS Jeff Horn prepares to put the exclamation mark on the greatest year in Australian boxing, he is banking on an old coathanger and some $ 1.09 pieces of foam rubber as keys to a stunning victory over Terence Crawford in Las Vegas.
A lifelong fan of magic tricks, Horn hopes to transform the humble household items into the keys that will open the highest spot on the world boxing mountain at the MGM Grand Casino.
Less than a year after he tore the WBO welterweight title from all-time great Manny Pacquiao at Suncorp Stadium, Horn has a big chance in the world headquarters of boxing to beat the slick and crafty American rated by many as the best fighter in the world at any weight.
Brisbane’s Fighting Schoolteacher had his final hit-out before the bout, sweating off 1.5kg in a plastic raincoat as he prepared to carry the hopes of a nation against a two-time world champ unbeaten in 32 pro fights.
Horn said he had undergone the best preparation of his career over four months, perfecting all his moves and counterpunches under trainer Glenn Rushton’s 12-point plan for victory and honing his accuracy and sharpness in punching-pad work with strength and conditioning guru Dundee Kim.
ULTIMATE GUIDE: Horn v Crawford preview
HORN’S PROMISE: ‘I’m going to shock the world’
PERFECT PARTNERS: Love conquers all for Horn
He said two pieces of equipment crucial to victory were a coathanger and foam batons he calls “swimming pool noodles” – flotation devices which boxing coaches use like fighting sticks to sharpen reflexes.
“The noodles give you very fast hands, and I have really worked on speed of hand and speed of foot for this fight.”
Kim pays $ 1.09 for the noodles and also reshaped an old coathanger into a circular target which Horn fires punches at, aiming to get his glove inside the wire circle to improve his pin-point punch accuracy.
On Friday at the MGM Grand, Horn did two rounds of skipping, four rounds on the punching pads with Rushton and Kim, and two rounds of shadowboxing.
He was laughing and joking as he powered out the punches and dripped sweat, saying that he had never felt so relaxed and confident before a fight.
He laughed off the threats of Crawford and his supporters at yesterday’s face-off for the cameras when he met the cocky challenger for the first time, saying their predictions that he was going down were “hilarious”.
Horn expected to wake up this morning at 68kg and have no trouble making the 66.68kg limit at today’s weigh-in.
“This is the easiest I’ve made the weight,” Horn said. “It’s been a great preparation and I’m ready to shock the world.
“Crawford is a tough fighter, but that’s what I want – the tough fights. I want to fight and beat the best in the world.”
In the same venue where Kostya Tszyu famously knocked out another cocky American southpaw Zab Judah in 2001, Horn said: “Kostya Tszyu dined out on southpaws, and I’m really good against them too.
“Crawford will be quick, which will counter my slight size advantage. But I’m in the best shape ever, and I won’t have to kill myself to make the weight like I did against Manny Pacquiao and Gary Corcoran.
“By the time I get in the ring I’ll be rehydrated and probably be around 70kg.
“I’ll be hitting Crawford harder than anyone has ever hit him in his life. I’m planning a fast start. If I can rock him in the first round I’ll try to finish it straight away.
“The world title will be staying in Australia.”
Watch Boxing, UFC and MMA on FOX SPORTS. SIGN UP NOW >