Controversy erupted late in Jeff Horn’s shock loss to Michael Zerafa on Saturday night, with the referee and Horn’s camp under fire for allowing the fighter to continue while clearly struggling.
Horn's shot at a middleweight world boxing title in December appears to have been wrecked after he was outboxed and stopped in the ninth round by his Victorian opponent in Bendigo.
'DISCRIMINATORY': Jeff Horn fight rocked by ring girl controversy
Horn was dropped in the second and ninth rounds and a barrage of shots following the latter knockdown prompted the referee to halt the bout at Bendigo Stadium.
However many thought the fight should have been stopped earlier.
Horn was clearly dazed after a barrage from Zerafa, and commentators were left gobsmacked when the referee allowed the fight to continue.
“He’s done, throw the towel in,” one commentator said. “Stop the fight, what are you doing?”
“No, no, that’s terrible,” the commentator continued as Horn was allowed to box on.
Horn was then pummelled into defeat just seconds later.
“Just hope Jeff is OK, they should have stopped that fight in the corner,” one of the commentators said.
“That fight should have been stopped before Jeff Horn took unnecessary punishment.”
Jeff Fenech fumes
Australian boxing great Jeff Fenech slammed Horn's corner and the referee.
"The referee and the corner should be investigated and shouldn't be allowed to be in the sport of boxing, because we've got to first and foremost look after our fighter," Fenech told AAP.
Fenech was critical of Horn's trainer Glenn Rushton, who admitted to being torn between intervening and giving his charge the chance to rally as he did in 2017, when he weathered a ferocious onslaught in his famous win over Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao in Brisbane.
"I think the world of Jeff Horn, I think of him like a son and it's tough to see him get hit," Rushton said.
"Half of you says you want to throw the towel in and the other half says if he grabs him and hangs on, we're close to the end of the round.
"I know how fast Jeff can recover, I know his natural endurance, I know how big a heart he has got, so it's always a tough call.
"If I watch that replay back, I may go ' I think I've erred there , maybe I should have thrown the towel in at that point."
American writer Ryan Songalia savaged the ugly scenes.
“Looked like Jeff Horn’s trainer was on the apron to stop the fight after the knockdown,” he tweeted.
“If the referee doesn’t acknowledge it STEP BETWEEN THE ROPES! Horn shouldn’t have been hit with any more punches at that point.”
Looked like Jeff Horn's trainer was on the apron to stop the fight after the knockdown. If the referee doesn't acknowledge it STEP BETWEEN THE ROPES! Horn shouldn't have been hit with anymore punches at that point https://t.co/ZDmMvRrFkm— Ryan Songalia (@ryansongalia) August 31, 2019
Others were also highly critical.
It’s OVER. Michael Zerafa stops Jeff Horn in round nine, waved off, disgrace from Horn’s corner that they did not bring the towel in late in the round #HornZerafa— Phil Lutton (@phillutton78) August 31, 2019
That fight should of been stopped by the corner! #HornZerafa— Luke Jackson (@LukeJackson) August 31, 2019
Anyone else thinking to launch a Kickstarter page to purchase Horn's trainer a towel for 9th rounds? Totally irresponsible shit here 🤦🏻♂️ https://t.co/mWy0foBsrS— Mike Altamura (@mjaltamura) August 31, 2019
Actually, the referee & Horn’s corner didn’t do Jeff Horn justice today. Jeff’s cornermen should’ve thrown in the towel and the ref should’ve stopped the fight after the knockdown. Again, Jeff took unnecessary punishment instead of being saved for another day #boxing #HornZerafa https://t.co/iEkC1zHkTB— Francisco A. Salazar (@FSalazarBoxing) August 31, 2019
Just saw video of the Horn vs Zerafa fight .— Keith George Braden (@KeithGeorgeBra1) August 31, 2019
Poor refereeing allowing Horn to continue after the 2nd knockdown as Horn was clearly done and could barely keep his feet or his hands up .
Hang up the gloves Jeff, you have done yourself, your family & your country proud .
Rushton a disgrace for not throwing the towel on that 9th round beating. I have said it many times...he is not good for Horn.— Sweet Science Lab (@SweetSciencePhD) September 1, 2019
Horn’s wife Jo was reportedly in tears watching on.
Michael Zerafa has knocked out Jeff horn in rd 9. Jeff Horn’s wife is in tears. Sad to see. Great win by Zerafa.— Chris Garry (@ChrisGarry7) August 31, 2019
Horn’s first professional loss
Zerafa (27-3, 15 KOs) utilised his jab superbly and moved well, rarely allowing Horn to get inside and pressure him, earning himself a regional title.
At the time of the stoppage, Zerafa was ahead by three on two judges cards and seven on the third.
"I'm not surprised,' Zerafa said.
It was Horn's first loss to an Australian professional.
"Im a bit shattered ... I just felt really sluggish,' Horn said.
Horn (19-2-1, 13 KOs) started to assert himself in the third, landing his first significant shots, but was also cut over his left eye following a head clash.
Horn got tagged with some more rights in the fourth and Zerarfa was popping his left jab into the Queenslander's face.
Horn worked his way back in the fifth and started the sixth well but the Victorian came back strongly near the end of the latter round.
Zerafa landed some more big rights in the eighth and by the end of that round he was showboating to the crowd.