Former WBO welterweight champion Jeff ‘The Hornet’ Horn 19-1-1 (13) has knocked back the opportunity to face Japanese middleweight Ryota Murata 14-2 (11) in Tokyo as the fight would clash with the birth of his second child.
The 31-year-old Australian was offered close to $2 million for the bout but walked away from the fight when it was rescheduled from June 2 to July 12 as his wife Jo is scheduled to give birth three weeks earlier.
Murata, the gold medallist at the 2012 London Olympics, lost his WBA ‘regular’ title in his last fight in October to Rob Brant.
Horn is coming off a 96-second demolition of compatriot Anthony Mundine in November.
“My family has always come first,’’ Horn said to the Courier Mail. “Jo really needs me to help her in the weeks after the birth and I want to be there too. To me that’s a lot more precious than money or winning a big fight.’’
Horn’s promoter Dean Lonergan had originally tried to bring Brant to Australia but had to abandon that plan when the fight didn’t “stack up financially”.
“Bob Arum then graciously offered us the fight with Murata in Tokyo on June 2,” Lonergan said. “That date suited us but they pushed the fight out to July 12 and Jeff said that, with the baby coming, he wouldn’t take it no matter how much money was on the table.”
Horn has no shortage of domestic challengers with both Michael Zerafa and Tim Tszyu recently calling out the former Brisbane schoolteacher.
“I would happily fight Horn,” said Zerafa. “Jeff and his team know I’d give him fits. I’m not an outdated, old man like Mundine.”
Tszyu, the son of Hall of Famer Kostya Tszyu, contacted his manager after Horn’s loss to Terence Crawford last year to express his desire to make the fight.
“You’ve got to make this happen, I can see the gaps and I’m positive that I’m going to win,” Tszyu told him. “That’s the fight that we’re looking for. This is the fight that Australia needs, the best fighting the best.”