In August 2017, Terence Crawford unified the four major world titles at Junior welterweight.  Crawford though, doesn’t rest easily on his laurels and with the division dominated and secured, he opted to move up to fight in the 147-pound welterweight division.  If the move is a to prove a smooth transition, Jeff Horn will have to be dealt with first.

Paulie Malignaggi, a former two-division champion, believes it would be foolhardy to underestimate the former schoolteacher from Brisbane.  On July 2nd, 2017 in the Suncorp Stadium in Horn’s hometown, the Australian fought Manny Pacquiao.  Some argue that Pacquiao had his guard down going into the fight and lacked the required intensity from the first bell.

The Filipino had taken to Twitter in February of last year and nearly 45,000 people {well 45,000 accounts} voted so as to dictate whom he would fight next.  The overwhelming favourite was Amir Khan with 48% of the vote.  Kell Brook got 24% and Terence Crawford 21%.  Somewhat disregarded in the background was Jeff Horn on 7%.  Yet the Khan fight fell through. Top Rank’s Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter, said at the time of something was too good to be true, it was just that.

Ultimately, it fell to the 2012 Olympian – Horn – to present the challenge for Pacquiao to defend his WBO welterweight title.  We all know what happened next.  If you don’t, well it was one of the most entertaining boxing matches in a long time.

It was brutal and intense.  Horn won by a unanimous decision.  If the decision was controversial in some eyes, the reality was, Pacquiao looked his age.  Still though, it didn’t stop Horn and his wife receiving death threats in the aftermath of the fight.

Softly spoken and a gentle manner, Horn won the imagination of Australian boxing fans, and some further beyond.  However, the feeling was, and remains, he still has to prove himself.  Initially, Horn was to make a voluntary defence against Bradley Skeete.  When the match-up with Skeete, owner of the WBO European welterweight belt, failed to materialise, it fell on another British fighter to bring the challenge.  Londoner Gary Corcoran.

Corcoran showed his own brand of bravery in Brisbane, but an injury to his left eye hindered his vision and left him exposed.  Corcoran’s corner asked the referee to stop, Benjy Esteves Jr duly obliged.  It was a hard fight for Horn, but a fair assessment would be that he controlled the fight and had Corcoran seen it out, he still would have lost.

So back to Crawford.  Madison Square Garden on April 14th is the most likely set-up.  The likelihood is that Pacquiao will be on the card too.  But Crawford, in some circles, is thought to have too much for his Australian counterpart.  Too much technical ability.  Superior poise.  And it’s believed he can match Horn for heart.

But Malignaggi, speaking to believes Horn shouldn’t be readily dismissed.

“If Jeff Horn can upset Crawford, he’s going to put himself in the picture. I know it’s a big ask, but I think he’s a naturally bigger guy with a very physical style against a former lightweight. It’s not as easy of a fight for Crawford as people think. I think Crawford is legitimately the favourite in the fight, but you can not underestimate Horn.

“If Horn came and beat Crawford, after beating Pacquiao last year, he’s already put himself in as the frontrunner for ‘Fighter of The Year.’ I’m not going to say that’s my prediction, but what I’m saying is that you should at least open up your eyes to it.”

Time will tell, how accurate an assessment this is.