Many of boxing’s best prospects indulged their hands on heavy bags, pads, speed bags, and various other tools of fistic instruction as children. That wasn’t the case with Australia’s own battling welterweight, Jeff “The Hornet” Horn. At the physically matured age of eighteen, the Brisbane native entered the gym with the intent of learning self-defense and getting in shape. He accomplished both, but in the process of doing so, Horn’s aptitude for the nuances of boxing became quickly apparent by his trainer Glenn Rushton. Coach Rushton wished to put this newly discovered talent through its paces by entering Horn into the amateurs with the intent of making him an Olympian.
Jeff found success early on, winning Australian titles in 2009 and 2011. In the same calendar year (2011), “The Hornet” participated in the World Championships which were held in Baku, Azerbaijan, at the 64 kg limit. He was the only Australian to do so. In the first round of the tournament he was lined up against Bolivia’s, Elias Roca. Horn made light work of his South American foe, emerging victorious by the lopsided points spread of 42-5. His advance paired him with Everton Lopes, an experienced, slick, quick-hitting Brazilian. Lopes skills and experience proved too much to overcome and Horn dropped a decision, but it didn’t dampen his fighting spirit, as London was the goal.
The road to 2012’s summer games meant maintaining in-ring superiority over domestic competition. Jeff proceeded to secure a third Australian title and an Oceania one, thus allowing him to represent the green and gold in the Olympics. Gilbert Choombe of Zambia was Horn’s first victim. The Aussie overwhelmed Choombe, out-landing him 19-5. Next up was Tunisia’s, Abderrazak Haouia. Once again Jeff defeated his opponent. This time by the mark of 17-11. This triumph moved Jeff into the quarterfinals against Ukrainian workhorse, Denis Berinchik. The bout turned out to be close. The Queenslander boxed effectively, as he used movement, timing, and counter-punches to offset Berinchik’s rhythm. However the eventual silver medal winner’s sheer persistence and strength gave him the edge in the end and the final tally rested at 21-13. Regardless of the outcome, “The Hornet” and his trainer had reached one of their two main goals, to become an Olympian; the other one: to become a world titleholder in the paid ranks.
March 1st, 2013 saw the journey to title contention begin. Jody Allen,2-7, 1 KO, Horn’s first professional opponent, didn’t make it past the second round. Barely a month later, “The Hornet” stung and finished New Zealander, Torin Rophia, 0-1, in the first round. Twelve days later, Nuengsiam Kiatsongsang, 0-3, was his foe. Kiatsongsang was previously a Muay Thai fighter who had not been stopped in over 650 matches. He had also lasted the distance with Australian prospects Brandon Ogilvie, Qamil Balla, and Jason Kanofski. None of it mattered much. Jeff bounced his tough opponent of the canvass twice, stopping him in the first segment. The torrid fight schedule continued, as a draw was rendered nearly three months later (a technical draw which was the result of a cut from a head clash) in a match with Rivan Cesaire, 11-3, 3 KO’s; and Cameroon native, Samuel Colomban, 21-5, 10 KO’s, was utterly knocked senseless by vicious right hand that landed right on the button thirty-four days after that. Aswin Cabuy, 14-43-3, 7 KO’s, hit the deck and stayed there in the second, the result of a debilitating body shot.
Ring veteran Naoufel Ben Rabeh, 37-3, 20 KO’s, met Jeff fewer than thirty days later. The Tunisian-born battler was tipped to be Horn’s toughest scrap yet, and he was. Ben Rabeh was on a thirteen-fight winning streak and had scored a third round knockout over former IBF welterweight titleholder, Isaac Hlatshwayo, a few fights prior. The two-time title challenger also presented an interesting offer to the budding Aussie star, winner-takes-all. Horn accepted.
In a match that had the fight fans of the “Land Down Under” chatting, “The Hornet” made certain that it would be his hand that would be raised at the end of the bout. Throughout the fistic exhibition, Horn strafed Naoufel with power shots, hurting him more than anyone had done so since Ben Rabeh’s stoppage loss to Lovemore Ndou back in 2007. When all was said and done, Jeff couldn’t put his man away, but he did win clearly and the experience proved valuable. Jeff later stated that, “The fight against Rabah was my toughest, it was the first time I’d gone past three rounds, but it wasn’t just that. Ben is very skillful and I needed to be on my game to beat him. It was an all or nothing fight for me so there was plenty to fight for.”
6-0-1 with 5 knockouts and win over a former title challenger wasn’t a bad first year of work for the aggressive, hard-punching Queenslander, but something still weighed on his mind: it was the lonesome survivor, the one who evaded defeat, Rivan Cesaire.
Horn’s people secured a rematch on March 19th of 2014. Jeff dominated, leaving little doubt as to who would have won had the first bout continued. He dropped Cesair in the first and ninth, the last of which caused a shoulder dislocation and cessation to the fistic exhibition.
In July of 2014, Fernando Ferreira da Silva, 32-3-1, 24 KO’s, of Brazil was next up. In only the second time in his young career, the Australian was extended for the length of a bout, but this time it was for twelve rounds as opposed to six. The scores at the end indicated what type of fight it was: a one-sided affair with scores of 120-107 being shown on all three of the judges’ scorecards. Five months following this victory, and Horn’s most recent bout, he stepped into the squared circle against another Brazilian pugilist, then twenty-nine-year-old, Robson Assis, 14-0, 8 KO’s. Assis came to fight, but like most in-ring adversaries of “The Hornet”, they succumb to his power. This five round bout proved no different, as Horn dropped his man twice in the fourth and then for the count with a booming body blow in the following segment. In the immediate aftermath of his conquest, Horn revealed that he had hurt his hand.
The Aussie spent a short deal recovering and quickly put his fighting schedule is back on track. Now, Ghanaian puncher, Richmond Djarbeng, 19-2-1, 15 KO’s, and a yet to be determined fighter await in the coming months. Neither of which should stem the Aussie fistic tide.
Jeff “The Hornet” Horn, a schoolteacher by day, continues his sporting quest of establishing himself as a world player and attaining the glory of past Australian champions, and to fulfill his boxing dream of winning a world title. And while speaking of past Aussie boxing campaigners, Horn resembles one of the most famous examples of a top fistic performer who could box a bit and pursue his opponent’s demise by aggressive means, that man is the “Marrickville Mauler”, three-division champion, Jeff Fenech. Jeff Horn, likewise, can box, as he showed in the Olympics. But like Fenech, he chooses to swarm his opponents with quick feet and hands and let rip with indiscriminate power blows.
In an already highly competitive welterweight division, Jeff Horn may soon bring even more talent and firepower.