Jeff Horn has defended his WBO welterweight world title, beating British challenger Gary Corcoran by a technical knockout in the 11th round.
In his first title defence since his huge upset win over Manny Pacquiao in July, Horn held off an eager Corcoran, who took the game to the world champion.
After an uncertain start, Horn found a second win towards the end of the fight, ultimately cutting his opponent up enough to force Corcoran’s corner to throw in the towel a minute and 35 seconds into the penultimate round.
“He pushed me all the way. Gary’s a very awkward fighter which put me off my game in the early rounds. I felt my timing was a bit off but I managed to get him out of there in the end,” Horn said.
“It’s great being able to defend the title in Australia, it’s such a fantastic place and it wish we could bring more fights Down Under.”
On the prospect of fighting unified welterweight champion Terence Crawford, Horn was keen to test his mettle against the world’s best.
“It’s a big possibility and if that’s what everyone wants to see, then that’s what’s going to happen. It’s the entertainment business isn’t it?” he said.
“I’d love to fight the unified welterweight champion of the world.”
The opening rounds saw Horn sizing Corcoran up, taking the first round as the aggressor, pushing the challenger to the canvas but seeing it ruled out as a slip.
Corcoran got some ground back in the second, landing a right hook on Horn and getting in a series of body blows in a tight round.
The third proved even tighter as the referee urged both fighters to keep things clean. Horn unleashed a big right hand on Corcoran, but the Briton didn’t even flinch as both fighters traded blows.
The mood shifted in the fourth as Corcoran landed a series of punches in the clinch, with both fighters swinging wild punches at each other at the bell.
Horn defies fatigue to find second wind
But Horn battled back into the fight to win the fifth round, evening up the ledger after overcoming Corcoran’s smothering tactics, as his wife Jo — eight months pregnant and expecting a baby daughter imminently — watched on.
The cuts and scrapes both boxers carried into the match started to shed claret in the sixth, as Corcoran landed a left jab on Horn’s face before the local looked to steal the round with a late left swing on the bell.
Corcoran found himself on the floor again in the seventh, again via a Horn push, but Horn started opening up to land some swings despite showing visible fatigue.
Another even round in the seventh was arguably edged by Horn, who was finding power in his shots, only for Corcoran to throw a huge shot after the bell in a foul that drew the referee’s ire.
As Corcoran’s cut near his right eye looked to open up, Horn found energy in the eighth to edge another round as he proceeded to land more shots than his challenger.
The fight tightened up dramatically in the ninth as both boxers went hell for leather to bring the bout towards too-close-to-call territory.
By the 11th round, with more cuts on his face opening up, Corcoran’s corner called off the fight, as Horn — tired but unbeaten — raised his arms in celebration, before being embraced by coach Glenn Rushton.
“Too many cuts, couldn’t see the shots coming,” the vanquished Corcoran said.
“Fair play to Jeff, he’s a good fighter but I’ll be back, I’ll learn from it and come again.”
Leapai’s comeback ends in controversial draw
The night of undercard action started in controversial circumstances as Australia’s Alex Leapai seeing his comeback fight chalked up as a technical draw.
Leapai, 38, was all over opponent Roger Izonritei early in the fight, only for a stray elbow to cause a gash above Izonritei’s eye.
The referee stopped the fight, much to the fury of Leapai, in just his second bout since 2015.
Leapai, who took on Wladimir Klitschko for the world heavyweight title in 2014, demanded a rematch against Izonritei.
“We’ve got to fix this up. This is … I could say a swear world … but this is wrong,” Leapai said.
“Come on ref, you’ve got to get your s*** right. We’re not doing kickboxing here. We’re boxing here.
“This won’t stop me. I’m still going and I’m going to make it to the top and if I have to fight him again so be it, but there’s going to be a rematch because this is bull.”
There was a confusing win for Australia’s Shannon O’Connell, who won TKO in the first round over Thailand’s Sumalee Tongpootorn. The Thai boxer looked at a loss when the referee stopped the fight prematurely, despite being dominated.
Queensland’s Rohan Murdock landed the WBO oriental super middleweight title with a win over 10 rounds against Russia’s Apti Ustarkhanov, while Western Australia’s Nathaniel May knocked out Brazil’s Aelio Mesquita in five rounds to clinch the IBF international featherweight title.
In other fights, Lenny Zappavigna beat Uruguay’s Nestor Faccio Cordozo TKO in three rounds, while Paul Fleming beat Vergil Puton in the seventh.