Jeff Horn vs Tim Tszyu: Aussie boxing at a crossroads
Full disclosure, Jeff Horn has never been my cup of tea.
Fair play to him for grabbing hold of the Australian boxing market in the post-Anthony Mundine era and leveraging a historic win against Manny Pacquiao into millions of dollars.
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There's a reason Horn has resonated with local audiences in the wake of that famous victory at Suncorp Stadium in 2017. He's tough, has a big heart and - when he's not stepping out of his comfort zone to try to promote a fight - is a humble warrior.
That's just not how I like my fighters.
Give me someone slick - both in the ring and with microphone in hand - over the honest battler any day.
Horn, for all his good qualities, has always been a bit awkward, both when he's charging head forward at an opponent and when he's trying to throw the verbal jabs his handlers have convinced him are important in hyping up an event.
This isn't to tarnish what Horn's achieved. Whether you scored it for him or not, the Pacquiao fight will never be forgotten and his miraculous win in his second fight against Michael Zerafa last year was the stuff of legend.
But as he enters tonight's fight against Tim Tszyu - a crossroads for Aussie boxing - it will be better if Horn goes out on his shield instead of having his hand raised.
That's mainly because we know the Queenslander's ceiling.
Horn was completely out of his depth when he took the step up to fight Terence Crawford in Las Vegas in 2018 and it's almost certain he'll never attempt to climb that type of mountain again.
Even a convincing win against Tszyu would likely see Horn next look to a Zerafa trilogy fight and after that, the 32-year-old must be getting close to ceding to his wife's wishes and hanging them up.
If you're a Horn fan going out with wins against Tszyu and Zerafa probably sounds like a fine way to end a fine career.
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But for the future of the sport locally we need the hope of higher honours Tszyu promises - and the boost a big win over Horn will give the son of a gun.
Outside of the two men squaring off in Townsville tonight, Paul Gallen is probably the biggest draw in Aussie boxing.
That says everything you need to know about how important it is for Tszyu to win and carry us forward.
This is not to suggest we should enter Tszyu's first serious fight on a big stage with any great expectation.
He has the name, a marketable face and looks to have the skills, but he's so green it's impossible to know how good he can be.
That's why this fight is worth tuning into - and it's easier than ever to watch now Kayo is offering pay-per-view streaming.
It might be too much too soon for Tszyu and he could be turned into roadkill like Mundine was when he fought Horn.
But there's also the hope he's truly something special and will show up the difference between Horn's skills and fighters like Crawford.
Then suddenly we have a star on our hands in the mould of Tsyzu's father, Kostya, and that's enough to cheer up anyone's 2020.
Originally published as Australian boxing is at a crossroads