Famed trainer tipping Jeff Horn for stardom
JEFF Horn can become a superstar of boxing if he defeats Manny Pacquiao in the Battle of Brisbane, says the man who prepared Alex Leapai to fight Wladimir Klitschko for the world heavyweight championship.
Noel Thornberry trained Leapai from relative obscurity to be the man of the moment in Australia four years ago when he went into the ring with the superstar Ukrainian.
Now he says defeating eight-time champion Pacquiao on July 2 at Suncorp Stadium will put former Brisbane school teacher Horn in the same bracket as the Filipino and Klitschko.
"The world's his oyster," said Thornberry as he watched Horn have his final sparring session with Czar Amonsot in Brisbane.
"Jeff Horn will be a superstar should he beat Manny Pacquiao.
"He's a likeable, easy-going, clean-cut kid. He's 29 so he's still young and he's not from the wrong side of the tracks.
"He's very marketable. At some stage he may go to the US but if he's drawing 40,000-50,000 people for fights here, he might not need to.
"I know that Manny Pacquiao is part of the chemistry but if he's got a good, strong base here that might be enough."
Thornberry said it was important for Horn and his own trainer Glenn Rushton not to focus too much on what Pacquiao brings to the fight but to keep a close eye on what the Brisbane boxer does.
He said if Horn could put in his best performance then he could come away with a win.
"With Manny Pacquiao there is not much he hasn't seen, not much he hasn't done," he said.
"So Jeff Horn just has to be the best he can be and that should probably be enough."
While Pacquiao at 38 is coming towards the end of a storied career, Thornberry said it would not be a hollow victory if Horn was to come out on top.
"Pacquiaio's a hard guy to beat and I believe his last fight against Jesse Vargas was his best over the past five years," he said.
"If Horn does beat him, he's will not have beaten a washed-up Pacquiao. He's still on top of his game and it will be a massive victory for him and Australian sport."
Thornberry backed Horn to win if he used his strengths.
"One of those is his physicality," he added.
"He's a very good puncher and when he hits Pacquiao he's going to hit hard enough to hurt him and that should wear him down enough to get the job done."