Jeff Horn ready to conquer toughest mountain
IF THE mighty boxing champion Manny Pacquiao was a mountain then Terence Crawford, the fast and furious American Jeff Horn faces today in Las Vegas, is the fight game's answer to Mount Everest - and the perilous East Face at that.
Horn created boxing history last July on one of the greatest ever days in Queensland sport history when he rode a tide of emotion to win the World Boxing Organisation welterweight title from Pacquiao before more than 51,000 people at Suncorp Stadium.
Today he faces an even more dangerous opponent, a boxer bigger, faster and at 30, nine years younger than the great Filipino.
Crawford is a tough and dangerous man, raised amid violence, schooled in a world of guns and drugs and so fierce and formidable that he once drove himself to hospital after a gangster shot him in the back of the head.
He has a malevolent stare and a posse of dangerous-looking dudes around him.
In contrast, Horn is like a loveable puppy.
In the five years since I first met him at Pallara State School where the Fighting Schoolteacher was trying to keep the lid on a gaggle of boisterous nine-year-olds, I have never seen him in a bad mood, never heard him raise his voice, never heard him badmouth anyone. The strongest language he uses is "bullcrap".
Yet inside him beats an enormous fighting heart.
I've seen him knocked down and hurt and roar back to victory.
I've seen him in a hospital bed facing career-threatening surgery.
I've seen him with tears in his eyes when he talks about his wife and little girl.
And for the last 10 days here in Las Vegas I have seen him smiling, shaking hands and accommodating every conceivable request for photographs, interviews, handshakes and autographs - usually from people he's never met.
I wrote his biography last year, six years after penning the story of another exceptionally brave Queenslander, the aviator Bert Hinkler - both quiet, unassuming heroes.
Back in 1926 Bert became the first man to land an aircraft on an English mountain when he powered his little biplane through a storm to land on a small patch of grass on the highest peak in the Lakes District.
He faced danger and ruin all the way but almost 100 years later the monument is still there to mark his heroic feat.
His co-pilot remembered how the proud Queenslander was always smiling and whistling, in the face of danger, going about his business "unassuming and unafraid".
That's Jeff Horn, a modest and marvellous hero who wants to make history today.
He wants to be the Queenslander who took on world boxing's greatest mountain and conquered it.
Jeff Horn v Terence Crawford pay per view will be broadcast on Foxtel Channel 507.
To order: www.mainevent.com.au