Londoner Gary “Hellraiser” Corcoran’s (17-2) WBO world welterweight challenge was ended in the penultimate round against the champion Jeff “The Hornet” Horn (18-0-1) on December 13 in Brisbane.
It was a brave and gutsy challenge from the 26-year-old two-weight WBO Inter-Continental champion from Wembley in hostile territory.
Horn, 29, was the better fighter landing the cleaner, more accurate shots that eventually wore down the North Londoner, who received multiple cuts.
‘The Battle of Brisbane 2’ started with the champion clearly claiming the first round on the scorecards, staggering Corcoran with a jab when he was off-balance. The challenger appeared a little nervous with his jerky movements during the opener.
In the second round, Horn landed a perfect overhand right to snap the challenger’s head back. Corcoran, trained by Frank Greaves, was trying to get on the inside and managed to land a good body shot midway.
As expected, the fight started to become messy. Corcoran was holding a lot but landed a good right hand on the ex-school teacher’s chin, and began trying to get his jab working.
In the third, an encouraged Corcoran started working his jab again, but the ref called both fighters in to warn of their heads coming together.
Corcoran enjoyed a very good round, slipping shots with ease and trying to counter back, boxing a lot smarter. Dictating the fight in the third round, Corcoran clearly claimed it on the judges’ scorecards.
The fourth segment started with Corcoran overswinging with his left hook and consequently taking a slip. Although holding a lot, the right-hand lead was working well for the ‘Hellraiser’.
The Manny Pacquiao conqueror sneaked in a good short left hand when in close, and had finally become wise to the lead right hand coming his way and slipped two in the final minute of the fourth. The best shot in the round was a body blow that hit the target from Corcoran. The pair slugged it out in the final seconds.
A low blow from Corcoran started the fifth round off and Horn responded moments later with a good uppercut.
The Aussie was boxing clever to land shots then shifting his feet to get out of range. Although, a big right hand over the top shook Horn and the pair ended the round in a frenzied flurry again.
In the corner, Corcoran’s team have to work on a cut over the right eye.
In the sixth, Corcoran springs into attack to land a long left hand that snapped Horn’s head sideways. The champion appeared to be cut on the left eye, and Corcoran seemed to have picked up a nick on his nose. The heads are clashing frequently, descending the fight into a bloody encounter.
The action up to this point was fairly even, but the rounds would be stacking up for the home town boy.
The referee was kept busy all fight but managed to do a stellar job in allowing the fight to flow.
Corcoran stumbled in the seventh and Horn pounced, thinking he had him hurt from a punch. He loaded up and missed wildly.
Horn was still landing freely despite good head movement from the challenger. The Aussie clearly won the round, but Corcoran sneaked a shot in after the bell. Biggest round of the fight for Horn.
Corcoran looked hurt from a body shot in the eighth, which landed slightly low on the waistband. A left hook-right hand landed well from Corcoran to force Horn back.
The Londoner’s left eye was bleeding copiously by this point. Horn’s accurate shots were wearing the recipient down bit by bit, resulting in facial damage and more holding from Corcoran. It was a scrappy conclusion to the round.
Both were bloodied by round nine and looking a little haggard from the pace and punishment.
The champion was landing good one-twos and dictating the pace. His superior footwork was troubling Corcoran, who’s shots were landing infrequently by this stage.
‘The Hornet’ was boxing clever and exuding confidence as the championship rounds drew nearer. His hit and move policy was working for him. There was more variety in the attacks of the champion than the challenger who was landing with jabs, one-two’s, hooks and uppercuts.
Round ten saw Corcoran starting the action already on the backfoot and soon found himself trapped on the ropes, wedged in momentarily, but managed to escape by leaning forward with his head and somehow got away with the intentional butt.
Roared on by the crowd, Horn stepped it up, looking for the stoppage. The warrior was able to weather the storm but content to be second to the punch and counter. Horn was too accurate and dominant, but Corcoran taunted him by smiling maniacally through the blood.
Round 11 was brought to a halt momentarily so the ringside doctor could take a good look at the widening cut on Corcoran’s eye, but allowed him to continue after inspection.
The challenger, way down on the scorecards, was not working enough to win rounds and, at 1:35 on the clock of the 11th round, referee Benjy Esteves Jr called a halt to the contest, acting on the instructions of the corner, despite the loser still throwing punches as the decision was made.
The champion retained his WBO belt and kept his unbeaten record in front of his home fans to set up bigger fights in 2018.
Horn, flanked by promoter Bob Arum, said post-fight that he wants Terence Crawford in Las Vegas next.
The challenger, who entered the ring to taunts, was cheered by the crowd for his valiant effort.
He said, “Too many cuts in the end, I couldn’t see the shots coming. He’s a good fighter and I’ll be back and learn from it, I’ll come again.
“I weren’t really hurt in the fight but I was taking shots, I’m a tough fucker but what’s the point in keep taking shots. I wanna’ go home for Christmas and celebrate with my little girl.”
Horn proved to be a worthy champion with the dominant display and challenger Corcoran won over the fans in Australia with his courageous challenge.