Jeff Horn hopes to channel Superman against Randall Bailey
HE might be an unassuming school teacher by day, but Jeff Horn will need to morph into a superhero when he takes on "Knockout King" Randall Bailey in their welterweight bout at the Brisbane Convention Centre tonight.
The 41-year-old American, an ex-drug dealer who spent time in prison for carrying guns, knocked out his first 21 opponents and has been touted as one of the best fighters to come to Queensland.
The 28-year-old Horn may be mild-mannered, but he is confident enough to have "future world champion" on his Twitter profile.
His long-time coach Glenn Rushton said Bailey would be making a mistake if he thought Horn, ranked No.5 in the world, would bring his timid nature into the ring.
"He looks like the guy next door - he doesn't have your superhero appearance, and is more like Clark Kent (Superman) or Peter Parker (Spiderman)," Rushton told Australian Regional Media.
"Some fighters like to look tough with tattoos and mohawk hair cuts - Jeff doesn't need to do any of that.
"He doesn't need to look tough - he just is."
Rushton even compared Horn's toughness to the current unified, undefeated and seemingly unstoppable middleweight champion, Gennady Golovkin, which is why he thinks his man can handle anything Bailey throws at him.
"When (Australian) Daniel Geale fought Golovkin (in 2014), you could see Geale thought 'I've just hit him with a pretty good shot'," Rushton said.
"But then a second later, Golovkin hit him back with intent, which sat Geale on his arse.
"Jeff is the same - if he does get hit, it won't be a case of 'it's all over'.
"Jeff looks like a school teacher, but when you see him fight you will think 'has Rocky Balboa lost weight?'"
Horn said a driving force in his quest to become world champion came when he lost his quarter-final to Ukrainian Denys Berinchyk at the London Olympics in 2012.
He has always thought it was a lot closer than the final score of 21-13.
Since then, the cousin of Brisbane's mayor Graham Quirk has gone on to claim an undefeated 13 wins and a draw from 14 professional fights.
"I thought I could beat Berinchyk and pick up a medal, so it was frustrating not to win," Horn said.
In fact, there is nobody he believes he cannot beat.
"Now that Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather have stepped away, I don't think there's anyone I can't handle," Horn said.
And that includes the hard-hitting Bailey tonight, despite the fact Horn only received a medical clearance to resume sparring again on April 1, after suffering a fractured thyroid cartilage and having a titanium plate inserted in his throat.
"I was a little nervous when I started sparring again, but not now," Horn said.
"Randall's one of the best in the world at knocking out people, but that doesn't mean he's going to get me."