Jeff Horn has big shoes to fill.
Jeff Horn has big shoes to fill.

Anthony Mundine teaches Horn a lesson

Anthony Mundine's messy exit from the fight world has heaped more pressure on Jeff Horn than just the expectation to win.

The fast-talking, pot-stirring boxing star called time on his career after being knocked out after just 96 seconds in the River City Rumble on Friday night and said no amount of money could tempt him to step back into the ring.

And Mundine's departure will leave a gaping hole in Australian boxing Horn has been tasked with filling.

After his loss in Brisbane Mundine admitted all the "hype and bulls*** that I talk" was purely an act to put bums on seats, but didn't accurately reflect who he really is. Well, it worked.

The bout at Suncorp Stadium was the third-biggest fight on Main Event pre-sale behind only Mayweather vs McGregor and Green vs Mundine - proof The Man could sell fights like no other right to the very end. But now the sport Down Under can't rely on Mundine to promote boxing like he has for 18 years, so Horn needs to step up.

Boxing commentator Paul Upham said Horn's stunning win over Manny Pacquiao last year has given him the opportunity to showcase Australian boxing on the world stage, and he implored the Queenslander to take responsibility for leading the charge and making Australian fighters relevant both inside and outside home territory.

Mundine was given a rude shock.
Mundine was given a rude shock.

Upham said Mundine was fantastic for shining a light on his domestic opponents, particularly those who went on to fight overseas like Daniel Geale and Sam Soliman, and now it's time for Horn to do the same.

"Mundine has shone a light on Australian boxing. Before he came along we had Kostya Tszyu and a few other guys compete on a world level, but so many other fighters got an opportunity to be in the spotlight (because of Mundine)," Upham told RSN radio.

"Certainly what he did for Australian boxing by bringing attention and giving opportunities to many boxers, you've got to give him credit for that.

"Hopefully Jeff Horn can do the same thing because every time he fights it's on television and people get seen.

"We need Jeff Horn. At the moment, we haven't got too many guys who are pressing to beat world guys.

"What normally happens is Australians fight and then move up to the world scene and it's a different class. Jeff Horn beating Manny Pacquiao opened some doors to him and even though he lost badly to Terence Crawford he's got to regroup.

"We need Jeff Horn because we really haven't got too many young guys at the moment who are ready to take the next step up."

Although a one-sided loss to Terence Crawford this year dented his credibility, particularly in America, Horn's win over Mundine means he can begin his path towards international redemption after surrendering his welterweight strap.

But Horn will never be the trash talking machine Mundine was. Whereas Choc could generate headlines with his tongue, nice guy Horn will have to use his fists to keep his name up in lights and ensure Australian boxing doesn't slip into the rear-view mirror.

Jeff Horn has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders.
Jeff Horn has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders.

Horn and his promoter Dean Lonergan both called Mundine a "promotional genius" after their fight and Lonergan said Australian boxers could learn a lot from how The Man went about his business outside the ring.

"It was his talking before the fight that blew this thing up and made it massive. When it comes to promotional genius, this guy's as good as it gets," Lonergan said.

"Certainly he can teach a few Australian boxers how to promote themselves.

"It's true that Australian boxing was carried on his shoulders for many years and there's a lot of Australian boxers who are incredibly grateful for the opportunity Anthony gave them by fighting them and giving them the biggest paydays of their lives and making them financially secure."

In Mundine's absence, it's up to Horn to turn himself into a box office drawcard - for his own interests and those of his compatriots.

His trainer Glenn Rushton said the two would explore all options for Horn's future, including pursuing fights at welterweight, light middleweight and middleweight. Rushton wants a rematch with Crawford - although he admitted that would be a few fights away at least - and also threw up the world's biggest earning boxer Canelo Alvarez as a possible opponent.

A win against Mundine hardly gives Horn a golden ticket to spruik his wares in the US - the reality is he knocked out a man 13 years his senior, after all - but the Australian boxing community will hope his latest win at least sets him on the path towards future title shots.

Because without Mundine, the country needs a hero to make Australian boxing great again.

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