1. Dec, 2016

Gloved up teacher Jeff Horn busy doing his homework on the men between him and a world title bout


A WEEK after scoring one of the biggest ever boxing wins seen in Brisbane, schoolteacher Jeff Horn is doing his homework on four leading opponents who could guarantee him a world title fight.

Horn is hoping to face World Boxing Organisation welterweight champ Jessie Vargas early in 2017 and has a shortlist of opponents for his next fight in Brisbane in August which he hopes will put him into the box seat for the world title shot.

His matchmaker Stuart Duncan and promoter Dean Lonergan are looking at a list of four potential opponents for the undefeated Horn’s next start at the Brisbane Convention Centre.

They are Germany’s No. 1 welterweight Rico Muller (19 wins, 1 loss, 1 draw; ranked No. 10 in the International Boxing Federation), Commonwealth champion Bradley Skeete from London (23 wins, 1 loss; No. 7 in the WBO), South African veteran Ali Funeka (38 wins, 5 losses, 3 draws, No. 10 in the WBO) and Argentina’s Cristian Nestor Romero (16 wins, 7 losses, 1 draw; No. 15 WBO).

Horn this week leaves for his first American holiday with wife Jo and is planning to take in all the sights from the White House to the Grand Canyon over the next six weeks.

While he’s away his trainer Glenn Rushton will be fighting to further Horn’s world ranking at the negotiating table.

The 28-year-old London Olympian went into his bout with American former world champ Randall Bailey last week ranked No. 5 contender in the WBO behind Vargas, a lanky 26-year-old from California.

But with the victory Horn is unofficially now the leading contender for Vargas’s title.

No. 1 ranked Manny Pacquiao announced after beating No. 2 ranked Tim Bradley in Las Vegas on April 9 that he was retiring from the sport. Bradley, likewise, will be cooling his heels for some time after a multimillion-dollar payday.

The No. 3 ranked WBO contender, Shawn Porter, is fighting World Boxing Association champ Keith Thurman on June 25. No. 4 ranked Errol Spence Jr is expected to fight IBF world champ Kell Brook in his next start which leaves Horn as the next available WBO challenger following his seventh-round stoppage of Bailey.

But boxing is a sport conducted over contracts as much as it is inside the ropes.

Horn is trying to position himself as not only the No. 1 contender for the title but also “the mandatory’’ contender, meaning that Vargas must fight him and that each boxer’s promoter gets bidding rights to host the event.

The mandatory position allowed Brisbane heavyweight Alex Leapai to earn $1.5 million — much more than most contenders — in his title shot against Wladimir Klitschko in 2014 because rival promoters were bidding to stage the event.

“I’m ready to fight Jessie Vargas right now,’’ Horn said.

“I’ve always been willing to take big risks but if I have to wait a while and fight to the top spot I’ll do that too.

“I showed against Bailey that I can take out a guy with world-class power. He’s regarded as the best puncher in the welterweight division and I wore him down so I’m confident I can beat Jessie Vargas too and bring a world title back to Brisbane.’’