By Keith Idec
Jeff Horn’s first defense of the WBO welterweight title wasn’t pretty, but the unbeaten Australian recorded a more convincing victory than he did when he upset Manny Pacquiao to win it.
Horn overcame cuts above both eyes, bloodied British challenger Gary Corcoran and Corcoran’s trainer, Frank Greaves, stopped their title fight in the 11th round Wednesday night in Brisbane, Australia, Horn’s hometown. Referee Benjy Esteves stepped in to halt the scheduled 12-round bout at 1:35 of the 11th round at Brisbane Exhibition & Convention Centre.
Corcoran was bleeding from a nasty gash over his left eye when the fight ended. Horn was beating Corcoran by big margins on all three scorecards at that point (100-90, 99-91, 99-91).
“He definitely pushed me in there,” Horn said. “My timing was a bit off, but I managed to get him out of there in the end. I was just getting my timing [early in the fight]. The whole fight, I felt it was a little bit off tonight, but I managed to clip him with a few good ones and then, unfortunately, our heads did come together. We’ve both got cuts on our heads. That’s a bit of a shame, but most of it was caused by the punches, I’m pretty sure.”
ESPN televised the fight live early Wednesday morning in the United States as part of its Top Rank boxing series.
The 29-year-old Horn (18-0-1, 12 KOs) defended the WBO welterweight title he won by upsetting Pacquiao on July 2 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. The Philippines’ Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) was heavily favored over the unknown Horn entering that bout, but Horn won a unanimous decision that was widely considered controversial.
London’s Corcoran (17-2, 7 KOs) is the WBO’s No. 10 contender at 147 pounds and represented an optional opponent for Horn in his first defense of the WBO welterweight title.
The 27-year-old Corcoran’s loss to Horn was his second in his past four fights. England’s Liam Williams (16-2-1, 11 KOs) dealt Corcoran his first defeat by stopping him in the 11th round of their July 2016 bout in Cardiff, Wales.
Horn’s victory over Corcoran moved him toward a mandatory defense against unbeaten Terence Crawford in his next fight. The WBO installed the 30-year-old Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) as its No. 1 contender at 147 pounds after Crawford, of Omaha, Nebraska, decided to give up his IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO 140-pound championships to move up to welterweight.
“Look, it’s a big possibility,” Horn said of facing Crawford sometime in April. “If that’s what everyone wants to see, that’s what’s gonna happen. It’s all the entertainment business, of course.”
A round before Wednesday’s encounter ended, Corcoran came back in the 10th round by landing jabs and left hooks.
Horn mostly had his way with Corcoran in the ninth round. Corcoran’s work rate had slowed down by then, and Horn was able to land and move out of Corcoran’s punching range consistently.
Corcoran snapped back Horn’s head with a hard jab about 15 seconds into the eighth round. Horn hit Corcoran, who bled from a worsening cut above his left eye, with a left hook on his hip later in the eighth, which made Corcoran move away from him.
Horn’s jab was effective in the seventh round, as he consistently landed it to keep Corcoran at a distance. Corcoran went down with just over two minutes to go in the seventh round, but Esteves ruled that trip to the canvas was caused by a push.
Corcoran drew a warning from Esteves for hitting Horn with a right hand after the bell sounded to end the seventh round. By the seventh round, Horn had cuts over his right and left eyes.
Blood began flowing from a cut over Horn’s left eye early in the sixth round. Horn and Corcoran spent much of the sixth round trading jabs, clinching and clashing heads.
Corcoran also landed an overhand right to Horn’s jaw in the sixth.
Horn’s left-right combination landed just before the midway mark of the fifth round. Horn later landed a right uppercut in the fifth.
Corcoran came back by landing an overhand right that made Horn retreat in the final minute of the fifth.
Corcoran connected with a straight right hand with 2:15 to go in the fourth round. Horn hit Corcoran with a right uppercut late in the fourth.
Esteves warned Horn and Corcoran early in the third round for their tactics. Corcoran pressed the action for the remainder of the third round and mostly made Horn fight off his back foot.
Corcoran had some success over the last 30 seconds of the second round. He hit Horn with a pair of right hands that stopped Horn from coming forward.
Horn knocked Corcoran off balance with a stiff jab when there were just over 30 seconds to go in the first round.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.