Jeff Horn and Michael Zerafa will face off on Wednesday. Picture: Getty Images
Jeff Horn and Michael Zerafa will face off on Wednesday. Picture: Getty Images

Horn must bring Pacquiao ‘warrior mentality’ to fight

Jeff Horn might not be back to his very best but as he summons the heart and hunger behind his epic victory over Manny Pacquiao two years ago he reckons his form will still be good enough to give him revenge over Michael Zerafa.

After taking the worst beating of his life against Zerafa in Bendigo four months ago, Horn is the outsider in Wednesday night's must-win rematch but says being the underdog gives him extra bite. Horn has been constantly replaying that monumental triumph against Pacquiao before more than 51,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium when he stunned the boxing world on one of the most dramatic days ever in Australian sport.

WATCH JEFF HORN VS MICHAEL ZERAFA 2 ONLY ON MAIN EVENT

"I feel great at the moment. I feel in great shape," said Horn, who insists he is much fitter and stronger than he was against Zerafa on August 31.

"I've done the hard training, I've done the hard work. This fight takes me back to my win over Pacquiao. I've got that must-win mentality just like I had when I climbed into the ring at Suncorp.

"That was missing when I fought Zerafa the first time. I was in cruise control during training and it showed in the fight."

Two years ago I was with Horn's small corner team gathered around him in a quiet anteroom deep in the concrete bowels beneath Suncorp Stadium as Dr Ben Manion sewed his torn eyebrow closed.

Michael Zerafa lands a blow on Jeff Horn last time they fought. Picture: AAP Images
Michael Zerafa lands a blow on Jeff Horn last time they fought. Picture: AAP Images

The new World Boxing Organisation titleholder was more exhausted than euphoric as his brother Ben held an icepack against his forehead and Horn's wife Jo tried to soothe his pain with gentle words.

Brisbane's 'Fighting Schoolteacher' had emerged triumphant after a firestorm with one of the greatest boxers of all time but, in the ninth round he realised that his biggest fight wasn't really being fought amid the din in the vast arena but deep inside his own soul where the essence of his character was forged with blood and fire on a steel backbone.

After winning most of the first eight rounds, Horn was badly hurt in Round 9 but refused to go down.

Trainer Glenn Rushton says he sees that same warrior mentality in Horn for this fight.

Jeff Horn celebrates after his famous win against Manny Pacquiao. Picture: Getty Images
Jeff Horn celebrates after his famous win against Manny Pacquiao. Picture: Getty Images

"Jeff has probably improved 20-30 per cent from his performance in Bendigo," Rushton said.

"He's not quite back to the form he had when he beat Pacquiao but he's getting there.

"We've been watching video of that win and Jeff knows exactly how much he has to lift from the first Zerafa fight."

Horn said the key to a victory was an improved defence.

"I can't eat those big rights like I did early in the Bendigo fight," he said.

"If I can avoid those and land my own it will be a totally different outcome."

He said Zerafa's constant trash talk didn't faze him but said he was disappointed that his Melbourne rival had been so disrespectful to him and his team.

"Zerafa keeps going on that (Horn's coach) Glenn Rushton is a rubbish trainer and that I'm a rubbish fighter, who can't box,'' Horn said.

"It's stupid but it gives me extra motivation to prove him wrong."

News Corp Australia

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