Following his ninth-round knockout loss to Michael Zerafa on Saturday night Jeff Horn’s trainer Glenn Rushton has spoken about his decision to allow the fight to continue after the Queenslander was dropped and hurt shortly before being stopped.
In the aftermath of Horn’s defeat at the Bendigo Stadium in Bendigo, Australia, fight fans and pundits have been critical of Rushton for not throwing in the towel when his man appeared clearly hurt.
In a statement published by Aus-Boxing.com, Rushton explained his rationale to allowing the fight to continue.
“I have copped considerable flack about the stoppage in Jeff’s fight and I certainly understand why people would say that and of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I think it only fair given the chatter that I explain my actions,” Rushton said.
“When Jeff went down late in the ninth round, which was from a combination of punches, some pushing by Michael and Jeff reaching for a tired clinch, he looked both hurt and fatigued and I thought the referee would stop the fight.
“If he didn’t, I fully intended to, which is why I stood up on the ring apron.
“It is customary these days now not to throw in the towel (as sometimes they are not seen by the referee) but simply to attract the attention of the referee by either waving your hands or a towel in order to attract the referee’s attention to stop the fight.
“When I got to the ropes, Jeff was getting up from the canvas and put his left hand down, which slipped on the canvas, causing him to fall back towards the ground.
“He then got to his feet and was wobbly for a couple of seconds. I was about to stop the fight at that point and asked him if he was okay but he then straightened up and put his hands on his hips, facing the referee, looking more fatigued than hurt.
“He steadied on his feet during the rest of the count. I could not see his eyes as he had his back to me, whereas the referee was looking directly at him. As the referee continued the count, Jeff stabilised his balance and took four steps towards the referee and did not stumble during any of these steps.
“Again, I could not see his eyes – but the referee could.
“At that point, with less than a minute to go in the round, the referee walked closely to Jeff, looked him right in the eyes and asked him if he was okay. Jeff nodded his head and raised his hands indicating he was okay to continue.
“He looked steady on his feet and I made the split-second decision that the referee was in a better position (in front of Jeff and looking directly at him) to make the call as to whether he was fit to continue, as from my viewpoint (looking directly at the back of Jeff’s head) all I could see was that Jeff looked steady on his feet.
“The decision I had to make was – am I the best person to make this call, or is the referee? Both of us want to protect the fighter – but who has the better vantage point/information to make that call? Remember that these decisions are critical as there is a lot at stake, with the primary concern of course being the safety of the boxer.
“Remember that these decisions are made in real time with no foreknowledge of the future.
“I understand that everyone is an expert with the benefit of hindsight, however, had Jeff circled or clinched Michael and survived the last 36 seconds of the round, who knows what would have happened once he had a full minute to recover.
“Or what if Michael rushed in to finish Jeff and Jeff delivered a stunning right hand to knock Michael out. It’s happened many times in boxing history. We all saw what Jeff did after nine rounds with Pacquiao.
“After literally being out on his feet in the 9th, he recovered in a minute to win the fight. Had I thrown the towel in that day, we would have missed one of the greatest comebacks in boxing history, which has triggered a major resurgence in Australian boxing.
“All boxers in Australia should thank Jeff Horn for what he has done, both inside and outside of the ring.
“He is a great Australian and whatever he chooses to do about his future, I’ll support his decision, one hundred percent.”