Mrs Hornet tells: Why I couldn’t stay away
JO HORN gently kissed her husband's wounds and hoped he would never fight again.
Deep down, though, she knew resistance was futile.
As much as she tried to talk the beloved soulmate she always calls Jeffrey into hanging up his gloves for the sake of their two little girls, the former world welterweight champion will charge into battle again tonight against Michael Zerafa, the man who left him battered and almost broken four months ago.
On August 31, the cocky Melbourne middleweight gave Queenslander Jeff Horn the worst hiding of his life, and is the betting favourite to do it again at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.
But Jo has watched Horn train for this fight like a man possessed as he seeks revenge.
"He's done a full 180-degree turn for this fight," Jo said.
"I knew Jeffrey wasn't going to go out of boxing losing like that to Zerafa, no matter how much I wanted him to quit.
"He's so focused and has driven himself so hard that it's almost like he's fighting himself.
"His food is a thousand times better than what he was eating before the first fight.
"He's been as dedicated and determined as he was before he won the world title against Manny Pacquiao at Suncorp two years ago.
"He knows he didn't perform at his best in the first Zerafa fight, and he has pushed himself harder than ever to make up for that."
Jo fell in love with Horn when he was a shy, bullied schoolboy - a bookish nerd who often hid out in the library to avoid the tough kids giving him grief.
They were high school sweethearts, and she hated the idea when Horn told her at the age of 20 that he wanted to have an amateur boxing bout.
She writhed in fear watching him swap heavy punches with another novice and emerge triumphant.
On August 31, she screamed and cried at ringside as Zerafa tore her husband apart at Bendigo Stadium in Victoria.
Horn had lost fights before, but not like this.
Zerafa savaged him for nine rounds and left Horn reeling around the ring like a drunk until he fell face-first to the canvas.
Jo told Horn she hoped he would never fight again.
He had made $5 million in a couple of years at the top of world boxing and had moved Jo and their daughters Isabelle, 2, and Charlotte, five months, from a renovator's special at Acacia Ridge to a grand home at Sunnybank.
He didn't need the money. He was fighting for pride.
"He is not someone who likes to lose, he's competitive in everything he does, even board games," Jo said.
"I knew it didn't matter what I said, beating Michael Zerafa means so much to Jeffrey and the loss seems to have only made him stronger.
"I'll be there watching the rematch, as always seated next to his mum.
"Jeffrey needs my support.
"I knew I couldn't stay away from this fight as much as I hate it, because that would only make it so much harder for him."