Jeff Horn’s reign as WBO welterweight champion has come to a crashing end at the hands of Terence Crawford, who claimed the belt with an utterly dominant display on Sunday (AEST) in Las Vegas.
Crawford was a class above from start to finish, totally overwhelming Horn to hand the Australian a comprehensive defeat – his first in 20 professional fights – with a ninth-round technical knockout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“I’m disappointed but I’m not hurt at all,” Horn told Main Event.
“Things happen. My first loss as a professional, I can keep going, I can rebuild.”
Horn, 30, conceded he became predictable halfway through the fight and should have feinted more to keep Crawford guessing.
The American enjoyed a big home-ground advantage at the MGM Grand, with few locals giving Horn any chance of victory.
Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs), the first junior welterweight champion to unify all four recognised titles last year, was making his welterweight debut in the fight against Horn, who suffered his first defeat as a professional (18-1-1, 12 KOs).
Referee Robert Byrd stopped the fight with 27 seconds to go in the ninth, intervening as Horn withstood an absolute battering from Crawford.
Crawford was making his debut at the welterweight limit and now has world titles in three different divisions, putting him in elite company with Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather and Oscar de la Hoya.
Horn, a former schoolteacher, was found wanting in his first fight outside of Australia or New Zealand.
As soon it began it was apparent there was a major gulf in quality between the pair.
Horn, who had blown out to 70kg by the time he entered the ring, never looked comfortable.
He walked into too way many hits from Crawford, who clinically picked him off and took total control of proceedings.
It quickly became apparent Horn would need a knockout to win but Crawford’s defence was superb, starving him of opportunities and using his superior reach to strike from long range.
Crawford went on a rampage in the eighth round, rocking Horn with the last punch just before the bell but had to wait to finish the job.
Referee Byrd asked Horn to “show me something” in the ninth, but he had nothing left to give.
Crawford promptly knocked him down, and while Horn recovered and withstood the count, he left Byrd with no choice but to call it off.
Horn heard massive boos from the 8,112 in attendance in Las Vegas as legendary ring announcer Michael Buffer introduced him.
The fight had all the customary glitz and glamour that comes with boxing in Las Vegas with celebrities like Lady Gaga, actors Mark Wahlberg and Chadwick Boseman, rapper Rick Ross and a handful of NFL and NBA players watching from ringside.