Top Rank's CEO Bob Arum has hailed rising Australian welterweight star Jeff Horn as a tremendous talent and believes the former schoolteacher has what it takes to crack the US boxing market.
Arum watched from ringside as Horn produced a spectacular sixth-round stoppage of South African veteran Ali Funeka in Auckland on Saturday night, a victory that is set to propel the 28-year-old from Brisbane's southside to lofty new heights.
So impressed was Arum that he is ready to take welterweight Horn to New York, Las Vegas or Macau by March next year to face one of the fighters from his Top Rank stable, either Jessie Vargas or Timothy Bradley, in a match that could yield a dream date with Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao in late 2017.
"He's a throwback fighter and he'll have tremendous appeal with boxing fans in the States," Arum said. "He fought a real tough awkward guy and he looked really tremendous.
"The truth is that back in the States where a Pacquiao fight will have to happen, Jeff Horn is not well known; only boxing people know him.
"That fight (Vargas or Bradley) I would like to see happen in the first three months of the year so that if Horn is successful, we can build for a fight with Pacquiao late in the year, because Manny told me he was fighting twice in 2017 and then he will hang up his gloves."
Horn's team would much rather square off with Vargas, a more traditional and predictable boxer, than the tough and skilful Bradley, but they are also keen on arranging a preparatory bout in Brisbane against either Mexican Antonio Orozco or Spainiard Ceferino Rodriguez in February.
With Horn ranked No.2 in the WBO before the fight, trainer Glenn Rushton believes the crushing win over Funeka, who was ranked No.8, will push him to the number one spot.
"I think we'll get number one. We're entitled to it. Bradley's been inactive, we've been very active. Two fights eight, should get one," Rushton said.
Arum has his eye on another Brisbane fighter, Shannon O'Connell, who was also on the undercard for Kiwi Joseph Parker's heavyweight title victory over Andy Ruiz Jr.
O'Connell, the WBC silver female super-bantamweight champion, delivered Argentine Laura Soledad Griffa her first career loss via unanimous decision and could also be bound for America.
"We are doing a big card on St. Patrick's Day at Madison Square Garden, maybe we will bring her over. She would be a real crowd pleaser," he said.