BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — After a contentious upset over Manny Pacquiao to win his first world title and a successful defense on home soil, Jeff Horn is ready to take his WBO welterweight belt to Las Vegas.
The former school teacher from Australia won by knockout in the 11th round Wednesday when Gary Corcoran's corner threw in the towel with the England-based boxer bleeding from a deep cut above his left eye.
It was Horn's first fight since his unanimous decision upset over eight-division champion Pacquiao in front of more than 51,000 fans in an outdoor afternoon fight at nearby Suncorp Stadium in July in the "Battle of Brisbane" — a victory that some critics dismissed as a hometown decision.
Horn, now unbeaten in 19 bouts, is hoping the win Wednesday at the smaller Brisbane Convention Centre sets him up for a fight against Terence Crawford next year.
"Yeah, there is a lot to prove to a lot of the Americans," Horn said, reflecting on the criticism following his win over Pacquiao. "There's always going to be the doubters. All I can do is keep winning, that's the key — hopefully I can start changing people's minds one by one."
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said he expected to soon confirm a Crawford-Horn fight in Las Vegas in April.
"We move on now. Terence Crawford is the mandatory contender," Arum said. "Terence Crawford is one of the best fighters around. He was a lightweight champion — that's 135 pounds — then he became a junior welterweight (140 pounds), and wiped out that division."
Arum said the step up to the 147-pound division would be another challenge for the unbeaten Crawford.
"Anybody that says that because of Terence's skillset that Jeff doesn't have a chance is crazy," Arum said. "This is going to be a very competitive fight."
The early rounds Wednesday were close with Corcoran continually walking forward and the pair clinching in close, but Horn landed enough punches to have a lead before he started to find his range in the seventh and dominated the next three rounds.
"It was a bit different this time, I wasn't the underdog for a change. I was coming in (as) the champion," Horn said. "He definitely pushed me. I felt my timing was a bit off, but I got him in the end.
"As soon as I started working off that jab and going first, I managed to break him down quite easily after that."
Two judges had awarded all but one round to Horn before the fight was stopped, and the other had given all 10 rounds to Horn.
Corcoran (17-2) needed six stitches to the cut above his left eye and another four stitches to a cut on the right.
He said he wasted energy in the early rounds and it cost him in the end.
"I just didn't let my shots go, was getting very tense," he said. "You're fighting for a world title. Better man won on the night, that's it. I fought a good fighter. I'll be back."
Horn had plenty of support in Brisbane, where he's related to the Lord Mayor and was part of a public campaign to back the state premier in a recent election.
Crawford, who watched the fight on ESPN, predicts Horn will get more than he's expecting in America.
"Jeff Horn did what he had to do to get the job done tonight but ... I have more power and more speed than Corcoran," Crawford said. "When he steps in to the ring with me, it's going to be a very different story."
Crawford, who moved to No. 1 spot on the pound-for-pound list in 2017, said he'd be bigger and stronger when he moves up to welterweight and he plans to again "clean out the division."
For his part, Horn is ready to fulfill a long-time plan to fight in the United States.
"From the start, it's where I pictured myself fighting for a world title," he said, adding the he was confident against Crawford. "He's someone definitely I can beat in the boxing world. I'm sure of that. I'm very confident, and that's the first step in this game."