World reacts to Jeff Horn bloodbath
A crazy glove choice, two knockdowns in a round-of-the-year candidate and a dodgy scorecard - this fight had it all.
Jeff Horn's boxing career is back on track after a thrilling and courageous majority points decision win against Michael Zerafa in a rematch with the man that almost ended his career earlier this year.
Horn signalled his intent right from the start throwing a wild right-hand in the opening seconds.
He was cut over his left eye in the first round and at one stage pushed his opponent to the floor.
With loud chants of "Hornet" echoing around the sold out venue, the 31-year-old was much more successful at closing the distance than he was in their first fight in August.
He applied pressure throughout the fight and rarely allowed Zerafa to find the rhythm he demonstrated in their bout in Bendigo.
Horn made it more of a brawl but also used his jab well in addition to landing some clubbing right-hand blows.
Zerafa started to find his rhythm in round three, landing his best right-hand shots of the bout.
But Horn reasserted himself in round four and found the target regularly with his jab in the fifth to open up a cut over Zerafa's left eye. Horn started the sixth well but Zerafa landed some good rights later in the round.
The ninth round hasn't been kind to Horn in his previous big fights, being stopped by Zerafa and Terence Crawford and taking a beating from Manny Pacquiao, but it was the round in which he sealed Wednesday's victory and revenge.
A desperate Zerafa, who had struggled to impose himself for most of the fight, launched a desperate attack and landed several right hands against a tiring Horn.
But the Queenslander dug deep, finding two big rights of his own to floor Zerafa twice in the last 35 seconds of the ninth.
Zerafa did well to make it to the final bell before the fighters embraced in a touching moment - but it wasn't long before the controversy began.
'ROGUE' SCORING CALLED OUT
One judge scored the contest as a 94-all draw but the other two had Horn winning 98-90 and 97-92, as he took WBA and WBO regional titles off Zerafa.
ABC sportscaster Corbin Middlemas described the 98-90 result "flat out disgraceful" while The Daily Telegraph's Jamie Pandaram said the judge who handed in 94-94 "was watching something else".
Horn's trainer Glenn Rushton also hit out at the draw. "I don't know how any judge could score that a draw," Rushton told Sporting News.
"Jeff had two knockdowns, he was winning most of the rounds. I don't understand that at all.
"Where was he from, the moon? Did he get knocked down somewhere? Seriously? That's insane."
Horn wins MD... Scores: one judge 94-94, other two gave it to Horn 90-98, 92-97. Ferlin Marsh after ruining the first fight as ref, produces a flat out disgraceful 90-98 scorecard as a judge. That did not happen #HornZerafa2— Corbin Middlemas (@CorbinMiddlemas) December 18, 2019
ZERAFA PROTEST: 'SHOULD HAVE BEEN STOPPED'
Zerafa's team is also considering a protest after being upset referee John Cauci didn't stop the bout as Horn took extreme punishment in the ninth round.
"Everyone knows it should have been stopped in the ninth, but there's no excuses," Zerafa said.
Horn got some respite when Cauci asked the ring physician to check a cut near his left eye, which later had 11 stitches inserted.
Zerafa tried to finish off Horn after a break of around 20 seconds, but the Queenslander rallied to score two knockdowns in the last 35 seconds of the round to effectively secure the win.
The beaten Victorian's team will watch the fight again on Thursday and may lodge a protest and ask for the result to be changed to a no contest. "I just thought it was completely unnecessary for the referee to get in the way," Zerafa's manager Brendan Bourke said.
"Michael had Jeff out completely, his corner about to throw in the towel, the referee should have just stopped the fight, he cannot go and give him a break. It just changed the whole outcome of the fight."
HORN CAMP: 'IT'S A LINEBALL DECISION'
Asked about whether he got a second wind while his cut was being examined, Horn said "not really, the fight is constantly stopped and broken up in little parts."
While a member of Horn's corner was poised to throw in the towel during Zerafa's onslaught, his trainer Rushton urged him not to do so.
"It's a lineball decision, but I didn't feel the time was quite there and I think I was vindicated," said Rushton, who was widely criticised for not throwing the towel in before his fighter was stopped in Bendigo.
Zerafa would like a third fight with Horn, but Rushton and promoter Dean Lonergan said their charge would now look to campaign at junior middleweight. Dropping down would put Horn in the same division as unbeaten world ranked Sydneysider Tim Tszyu.
"He (Tszyu) is coming through he's showing his explosiveness and he's a possible fight in the future," Horn said.
'HOW EMBARRASSING': GLOVE CHAOS
In bizarre scenes, Horn ended up using gloves with Zerafa's name on, as Rushton decided they would be better than the ones made specifically for his fighter.
"It was funny punching him with his own name on my gloves," said Horn, who revealed he got "death stares" from Zerafa when they turned up at the venue at the same time on Wednesday.
Others thought it was amateurish. "Is this a joke?" tweeted ex-NRL star Jamie Soward. "Who's managing Jeff Horn? Far out. How embarrassing."
I had it 96-92 to Horn. In any case Horn clearly won that fight, the judge who had it a draw was watching something else— Jamie Pandaram (@JamiePandaram) December 18, 2019