Will Jeff Horn defend his WBO welterweight title against mandatory challenger Terence Crawford? That remains to be seen, and Anthony Mundine’s name has come into play as a potential roadblock.
Horn, who retained his belt this past Wednesday with a win over Gary Corcoran, could reportedly make $2 million to fight countryman Mundine, which is apparently double what is being offered to face Crawford in the United States.
Driving the talk is Horn’s promoter Dean Lonergan trashing Crawford’s ability to sell a fight:
"Terence Crawford is pound-for-pound the world's toughest fighter but he is the worst of all worlds, a really tough fight but not a big money fight. The reason is he's absolutely poor in the media, he's not a great communicator. As a result he doesn't have a great following, doesn't sell a lot of tickets, and doesn't do a lot of pay-per-views.
“I've watched his interviews, he needs a lot of help to get right, because Conor McGregor he ain't. So start talking it up, Terence. Say something interesting."
If we’re all being entirely fair and honest here, no, Crawford (32-0, 23 KO) is not the most charismatic or brash talker in the fight game. He’s pretty low-key outside the ring, and a fearsome talent inside of it.
When Horn (18-0-1, 12 KO) was interviewed in the ring after his win over Corcoran, he was doing so with Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who represents Crawford, at his side. But Horn was non-committal then, and has remained so:
“There’s plenty of fighters out there, there’s plenty of options. ... There’s other guys out there. There’s the Mundines, there’s the Amir Khans, there’s heaps of them. There’s heaps of options.”
Mundine, who is 42 years old and ages past his prime, is certainly keen to chase the payday, trash talking Horn already:
“He doesn’t have the skill to beat me, I will end his career and his 10 minutes of fame. After what I saw against Corcoran, Horn is a B-grade fighter. He looked like a drunken fighter at times, it looked like he was on crack, his feet were everywhere, he was all over the place. I am too strong, too fast, too seasoned. All he’s got going for him is his awkward style, but you saw what I did to the most awkward fighter in Australia, Sam Soliman, and I’ll destroy Horn the same way.”
It has to be noted that Mundine (47-8, 27 KO) did indeed beat Sam Soliman — three times, in fact, in 2001, 2007, and 2008. More relevant as we head into 2018 is the fact that Mundine is coming off of a loss to Danny Green in what basically amounted to a big money old timer’s fight, and before that had lost clearly to both Charles Hatley and Joshua Clottey.
Mundine hasn’t won a fight since 2014, when he got a questionable decision over Sergey Rabchenko.
A fight between Horn and Mundine would surely come at 154 pounds, as there’s really no possible way that Mundine can boil down to 147, a weight he’s never made in his career. The fact that he started off a super middleweight and late in his career went down to junior middleweight is pretty amazing. The controversial veteran also has a fight scheduled for January 17, when he faces Tommy Browne (35-6-2, 13 KO), a former featherweight title challenger, in a middleweight contest.
As a fight fan, I find the idea of Horn facing a washed-up Mundine instead of Crawford to be fairly shameful. Mundine hasn’t been a relevant contender at any weight in years, and Horn is in his prime and at the top of his game. The style and speed Mundine speaks of regarding himself have eroded over the years. There’s nothing much left in him, based on the evidence of his most recent fights.
But the Mundine fight probably is easier to squeeze a $2 million payday out of for Horn, and his team’s priority is to make the most money. Maybe with the Mundine fight as leverage, Lonergan will be able to juice Arum and Top Rank for more money, making that fight more palatable on their side. Maybe ESPN wants Horn-Crawford badly enough that their involvement can help the situation.
But I won’t be surprised if Jeff Horn fights Anthony Mundine instead of Terence Crawford. It’s too familiar a situation in boxing.