Jeff Horn arrived at McCarran International Airport groggy after a 16-hour flight from Australia last week for his first professional bout in the United States.
The Aussie champion didn’t get much sleep on the flight because the woman next to him wanted to talk for most of the trip. Horn, a former gym teacher, is too nice to tell someone to stop talking.
He probably should have because he had a scheduled workout at the Top Rank gym hours after landing. With not much sleep and his body 17 hours behind, Horn could have easily scrapped the workout, but the doubt drove him.
Not many are giving Horn (18-0-1, 12 knockouts) a shot to defeat Terence Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) in their welterweight title bout Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Crawford is a minus 800 favorite and Horn a plus 550 underdog at the Westgate sports book.
Horn, 30, isn’t being looked at as the undefeated WBO champion who beat Manny Pacquiao last year. He’s viewed as the man holding Crawford’s belt before the Omaha, Nebraska, native moves on to bigger plans.
That’s why Horn decided to go straight to the gym when he landed.
“I don’t want to be just the guy who beat Pacquiao,” Horn said. “I have to prove it. I want to take on the big names, and Terence Crawford is definitely one.”
The original plan was for Crawford, 30, to face the legendary Pacquiao last year for his welterweight debut. Horn ruined those plans after recording the upset of 2017 when he beat Pacquiao by unanimous decision in Australia.
Crawford, a former undisputed junior welterweight champion, said he isn’t overlooking Horn.
“I don’t care that it’s not Manny Pacquiao (this weekend),” Crawford said. “Jeff Horn beat Pacquiao, and I’m fighting the guy who beat the man.
“Pacquiao underestimated him. He went in there and fought a guy he thought he was going to get out early, and Jeff Horn surprised him.”
Crawford said he won’t make the same mistakes as Pacquiao, but his peers and promoter already are looking past Horn.
Boxing fans and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum are dreaming of a super fight between IBF titlist Errol Spence and Crawford. Horn wants to ruin those plans, too.
“It’s very motivating when people don’t give you a chance,” Horn said. “I got other world champions out there like Errol Spence saying he’ll fight Crawford next. They’re looking past me already.
“You guys have no idea until you step in the ring with me that your plans might be changing.”
Horn and Crawford were supposed to meet in April at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, but Crawford injured a hand while sparring, postponing the bout. Horn has his doubts about the injury.
“(Crawford) is looking all right, especially with the convenient hand injury that gave him even more time to put on some size and get used to the new weight,” Horn said.
“Not buying the hand injury. I think it was just a promotional thing or Terence wanting to get more time.”
There was another potential delay when Horn was involved in a car accident two weeks ago. He said he hurt his neck but didn’t consider pulling from the bout.
“It’s a bit different from him having a little (hand) injury in training, and I’m getting smacked from the back side from another car and getting some whiplash from my neck,” Horn said. “I’m fine. It’s just like taking a small jab and getting your head snapped back.”
Horn might be too nice to tell someone to keep quiet during a long flight, but there’s nothing nice about him in the ring. He’s an aggressive fighter, not afraid to engage in a phone booth type of brawl.
“I do what people don’t like doing in the boxing ring,” Horn said. “I’m going to do everything I can do to make Crawford uncomfortable.”
When: Saturday, first bell 3:30 p.m.
Where: MGM Grand Garden
Main event: Jeff Horn vs. Terence Crawford
Co-main event: Jose Pedraza vs. Antonio Moran
Broadcast: ESPN+ ($4.99 app), 6:30 p.m.
Odds: Crawford -800; Horn +550