Dean Lonergan on Jeff Horn’s Rise From Obscurity
On December 13th, Jeff Horn makes the first defense of his WBO welterweight title against Gary Corcoran at the site of his title victory, Brisbane, Australia.
Horn first came into international notoriety when he won the WBO title, defeating Manny Pacquiao by what some call a controversial decision. But, the story of Jeff Horn began with Dean Lonergan, Bob Arum, and a Joseph Parker undercard.
Lonergan, who prior to promoting boxing had an extensive background in soccer, was a key cog in negotiating the fight between top heavyweights, Joseph Parker and Andy Ruiz. Lonergan, in a conversation with FIGHT SPORTS, said that he told Top Rank CEO, Bob Arum to keep an eye on a school teacher named Jeff Horn, who was fighting on that evening’s undercard.
“I said to Bob Arum, have a look at this young welterweight we’ve got, called Jeff Horn… really tough, good looking kid, married to his childhood sweetheart, got a great back story.”
According to Lonergan, what convinced Arum that Horn was special, came before the bell rang on fight night, when Horn did a media scrum, “He saw him perform in the media before hand and thought he was great.”
Arum was further impressed when Horn knocked Ali Funeka out, and that is when the road to Pacquiao began.
Originally Arum was pitching Lonergan on a Horn/Jesse Vargas bout, and a few other fighters prior to a matchup with Manny Pacquiao, but Lonergan had other plans.
“I went to the Queensland government and the Brisbane City Council, I told them I’ve got this local boy who wants to fight Manny Pacquiao and hopefully be world champion. We could do big numbers for you around the world in terms of viewership. We think we can do big numbers in terms of tourism… So they put up the money, and I think that probably shocked Bob (Arum), because this stuff hasn’t happened in a long time.”
Horn is not a machine-made fighter, Lonergan told FIGHT SPORTS, to get a fighter who represents an entire culture you first have to look at “amateur pedigree.”
Lonergan said that Horn has the best amateur pedigree of the past two generations coming out of Australia. It is Horn’s ability to work well with others and his personal story that makes him marketable to local, regional, national, and international media, and is key in getting him to where he is in his career.
While fighters such as Anthony Joshua, have grown and cultivated a specific market, Lonergan made it clear that if Jeff Horn wins on December 13th, he will be a traveling champion, floating out the idea of an early 2018 date at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in a mandatory against Terence Crawford.
Lonergan added that a rematch with Manny Pacquiao is possible, but made it clear that the fight between the two wouldn’t occur till late 2018, possibly November or December in Brisbane.