By Adrian Warren
Rising Australian boxing star Jeff Horn will fight former world champion Randall Bailey in March as he plots his course towards a world title shot later this year.
Horn, currently the No.7 contender for the WBO welterweight crown previously held by Floyd Mayweather Jr., will face America's 'Knock-Out King' Bailey on March 2 in his hometown, Brisbane.
It shapes as the biggest career test yet for the 27-year-old London Olympian, who is unbeaten in 14 fights and aspires to become a household name this year by breaking into the division's upper echelon.
Billed as the 'world's toughest schoolteacher', Horn has made a name for himself with some big wins in New Zealand over the last 18 months, including a commanding victory against European welterweight champ Ahmed El Mousaoui last month.
He remains a relative unknown in Australia but Horn's camp intends to change that quickly, having signed a multi-fight deal with Fox Sports which his promoters hope will reinvigorate boxing in this country.
"We are definitely taking a bit of a risk in Jeff fighting a seasoned fighter like Randall Bailey in a high-profile homecoming bout," said promoter Dean Lonergan.
"I have to be confident Jeff can win because he has beaten his last five opponents, who were all rated inside the top 15.
"We've got him on a fast track to a world title shot but a loss now would definitely set us back after all the hard work we've put in.
"However, Jeff never disappoints and he knows a win against someone with the class of Bailey can set us up for a seriously big 2016."
Horn will also defend his WBO Oriental and IBF Inter-Continental titles against Bailey, a three-time world champion who has a knockout percentage of 71.
The winner is almost certain to make further progress up the world rankings with the possibility of a WBO world title eliminator later this year.
The current WBO welterweight champion is American Timothy Bradley, who last year claimed the title stripped from the now-retired Mayweather on technical grounds.