The walk made by a boxer for a main event title fight can be daunting, but when carrying the surname of one of Australia’s most recognisable combat sports names, the weight of expectation can be all consuming.
By the time the fighter makes the walk, a card full of fights has come and gone. An audience full of fans who have parted with their hard earned money are now presented with the attraction that has drawn their attention and captured their imagination.
For the fighter, it is the culmination of many weeks of hard work and preparation. Every mistake has been corrected so that a slight flaw does not become a fatal one during the fight. The process of repetition through round upon round of sparring and drills has come to an end.
This is what awaits Ben Horn, brother of former World Champion Jeff on March 20. Unlike many of the fighters on the card however, Ben knows exactly what the long, daunting walk to the ring for a main event feels like.
As a corner man alongside brother Jeff, he has experience in World title fights. Moreover, he has seen the sports’ highest highs and the lowest ebbs.
From winning and defending the WBO Welterweight title, to being dominated by the supremely talented Tim Tszyu, Ben was there, riding the waves of pressure and emotion with every punch Jeff gave and received.
The evening of Saturday 20 March will be slightly different. This time, it is Ben stepping in the ring at the top of the bill to fight for the WBF Australasian Welterweight title.
His past experiences will hold him in good stead, he believes.
“Nerves isn’t a really big factor for me. I’ve been in those shows before and I don’t really get that much. I just know that I have a job to do and try and do it the best that I can,” Horn told The Inner Sanctum.
The magnitude of the bout is not lost on him, though.
“To get my first title shot in the pros and win that belt is a massive, massive thing for me. I’ll be going at it.”
Adding to the occasion, Horn is the first of a number of fighters from Brisbane’s Stretton Boxing Club set to fight for a regional title in coming weeks.
Both Joseph Goodall and Andrew Hunt will also be looking to bring hardware back to the gym in their fights on 27 March and 10 April respectively. The plan is to follow the standard set by “The Hunter”.
“There’s going to be a fair few belts hopefully in the gym straight after that – a nice little collection happening.
“Hopefully we all get good wins up and all can take a photo with belts around ourselves.
“That’d be great.”
After Jeff’s successful career on both the Australian and world stage, the weight of expectation now comes hand-in-hand any time the Horn name is mentioned.
Ben believes there’s no pressure on his shoulders as the most important fight of his career fast approaches.
“It’s about making a legacy and getting as many belts as I can.
“Obviously supporting my family is a huge thing as I’ve got two little young kids, but it’s just ‘keep them ticking over’, keep bringing in the belts is something that I feel pretty passionate about.
“For me, it’s my first belt but it’ll add to the many that we’ve got as a family.
“(I want to) get as many belts and titles as I can. I think if you can do that then everything else comes with it anyway. So, you really need that passion for winning titles.”
Standing in Horn’s way will be Townsville’s Mick Bagley (5-5-1) who is looking to add to the Queensland Welterweight title he won in 2020. Horn is heavily favoured to win the bout, but he said he won’t be taking his opponent lightly come fight night.
“I know Mick Bagley, I’ve seen some of his shows, and man he can take a shot. So going in to just look for the KO would be a mistake.
“He’s a good opponent. He’s strong, he’s got a punch on him, (but) I think I’m a better boxer and I also believe that I’m stronger than him and I’m definitely faster than him as well.
“So there’s a few edges that I think I have and I hope to make them all show on the night.”
Part of the challenge for any fighter is also the battle with oneself. Staying disciplined and composed within the fight, adhering to the game plan in order to achieve victory. Fighting on the big stage is as much physical as it is mental.
This is not lost on Ben.
After starting his career at 0-2 – both fights ending in TKO despite him not losing a round – Horn has gone about learning to become a more mentally aware fighter.
“By rights I should be 5-0. You can’t take those wins away from the other guys that I’ve fought and I won’t, but by rights I just defaulted myself and I let myself lose.
“I wanted to knock my opponents out – a bit like the Mike Tyson of the welterweight division – and that’s why I went out there making so many mistakes.
“I learned from that, knowing that if you’re just going to keep looking for that knockout you just don’t seem to land them when you’re looking for it like that. I’ve gone back to more of my amateur boxing and just picking away a little bit. As my coach likes to say, “bring ‘em to the deep water and don’t try to drown ‘em in the shallow end
“(I’m focused on) seeing the openings more and not just thinking “oh you’ve got small gloves on, no headgear – the people that you hit are gonna go to sleep”. They can be tough and they can take a weathering.”
Since this transformation in psyche, “the hunted” has truly become “The Hunter”, resulting in a three fight win streak of unanimous decisions over Billy Holland, Patrick Clarke and Jed Ariens.
Horn said he has truly adopted the moniker.
“I’ve gone into the mindset of not letting that happen now. I won every round of both those fights and seemed to have found a way get stopped in both of them.
“To pick myself up was hard, but it was easy.
“As hard as it was to swallow losing both of them, I knew that I had something special there and I had to just tune into it and just keep trying hard until I got the wins up.
“And I wasn’t going to stop until I did anyway.”
Come Saturday 20 March, Ben Horn will be determined to feast on the fruits of his labour.
“To me in my head, there will be no losing on the night. I’m just going to win round by round and just keep collecting those rounds until the end. I just want to win every round – I’ve never lost a round in professional boxing and I’d like to keep it that way on the 20th“
Fortitude Fight Night – Bagley vs Horn takes place at Brisbane’s Fortitude Stadium on 20 March. Tickets to the event can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/events/858938698294083