Two words Horn’s wife didn’t want to say
They were the words of heartfelt love from his adoring wife that inspired Jeff Horn to drag himself back from the jaws of defeat against Michael Zerafa on Wednesday night and win one of the most dramatic boxing matches ever seen in Australia.
"I just said, 'I love you and please be careful,' " Jo Horn said.
"I didn't even want to say 'good luck' in case it jinxed him."
Jo's heart almost broke in the epic ninth round, though, as her husband, his face covered with blood coming from a deep cut over his left eye, took one heavy blow after another and was moments away from defeat.
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Seated ringside next to Horn's mother Liza at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Jo buried her face in her hands and had flashbacks to the beating Horn took from Zerafa in their first fight in Bendigo on August 31.
"I was yelling out 'stop it, stop the fight'," Jo said yesterday as she and Horn strolled along South Bank with daughters Isabelle, 2, and Charlotte, five months.
"I didn't want to go through this all over again.
"I've been there before seeing Jeffrey knocked around, and I was just hoping they would stop the fight."
Horn's corner were seconds away from throwing in the towel, but Horn turned the fight and his family fortunes around in the blink of his bloodied left eye.
Battered and bruised late in the ninth round, he landed a huge right hand that deposited Zerafa on his back.
Another knockdown soon followed and Horn went on to win a spectacular 10-round points decision.
Yesterday, with his face heavily bruised and with 11 stitches over his left eye, Horn, 31, was back to being a mild-mannered husband and father.
He said despite the fact that Zerafa had given him death stares throughout the fight build-up, his Melbourne rival was "basically a nice guy".
Horn's left eye was all but closed on Thursday, but he was still focusing on a world title fight either in Brisbane against Brazil's Patrick Teixeira or an all-Aussie battle with Sydney's Tim Tszyu.
He joked that after the Zerafa fight he needed a short break from boxing, "maybe two or three years", but that his first priority was getting his Christmas shopping finished.
His young family are hosting Jo's parents for Christmas lunch and then visiting Horn's grandmother.
He says revenge over Zerafa was sweet, but not as sweet as her lemon meringue pie.