Australian welterweight champion Jeff Horn is hopeful he can silence his critics once and for all when he travels to Las Vegas and attempts his second title defense against the undefeated Terence Crawford.
Horn, 30, has been the subject of intense criticism ever since scoring a controversial unanimous points decision over Manny Pacquiao in Brisbane last year. Many felt the Filipino boxing legend had done enough -- particularly after a bruising ninth round that almost saw the home favorite hit the canvas -- yet it was Horn's name that was read out from the judges' cards.
A re-score of the fight the following week again ruled Horn the winner but did little to change the perception that he was gifted a hometown decision and would not have got the victory had the fight been outside of Australia.
"It's very difficult because you had Teddy Atlas in the ears of all the Americans talking up Pacquiao [before the fight]," Horn told ESPN. "Every punch he threw supposedly landed and I shouldn't have won the fight. It didn't help me, that's for sure.
"But now I'm going over to where they all speculated and I'm fighting one of the best fighters they have. He's ranked pound-for-pound one of the best boxers in the world, so if I beat him surely that silences all of the doubters."
Horn's stunning win over Pacquiao was backed up in December when he knocked out British traveler Gary Corcoran, once again in his hometown of Brisbane. His successful maiden title defense saw his professional record improve to 18-0-1, but the stakes have been ratcheted up once again as Horn prepares for arguably his greatest challenge to date.
Crawford (32-0-0) became the undisputed junior welterweight champion last year after knocking out Julius Indongo. The 30-year-old then opted to vacate his belts and make the move up to the welterweight division, where he will face Horn.
"This is an absolutely massive fight," Horn said. "The Pacquiao one was as well, but this is even bigger. [If I win] I'll be beating a unified world champion. My contract with Top Rank ends and I can negotiate a substantial amount for my next fight. There's so much on the line for my career if I can win this fight."
There might be plenty riding on the outcome of this bout, but Horn, just as he did before facing Pacquiao, revealed he has already envisaged how the brawl will go down when the two face up Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
"I have already pictured myself winning this fight," he said. "I picture winning by knockout and getting my hand raised at the end of the fight. I am already mentally preparing myself for what I think will happen.
"He's probably got a bit more speed than I do but I've got a bigger heart than he does and I think that's my biggest advantage. I just can't wait to get out there and show my worth to him. That's just what I do."