The fallout from Jeff Horn’s monumental defeat to Tim Tszyu continues with trainer Glenn Rushton and cornerman Adam Copeland exchanging barbs on social media over the fight’s dramatic conclusion.
Horn failed to rise from his corner at the start of the ninth round of the super welterweight clash, with referee Phil Austin calling an end to the fight on the advice of Horn’s corner.
Rushton was heavily criticised for failing to throw in the towel in Townsville, as Horn endured a barrage of punishment from his clinical young opponent.
However, in a lengthy statement, Rushton said he did not want the fight to be called off and that the referee was persuaded to do so on the advice of cornerman Adam Copeland.
Rushton said that Copeland had also tried to stop the fight in the final rounds in the second contest with Michael Zerafa in Brisbane, apologising afterwards as Horn mounted a stirring comeback.
Rushton said it was “nonsense” to suggest Horn could not still win the fight and that in ending the fight, Copeland had “quite possibly, [ended] Jeff’s career”.
Rushton added that Copeland should not have been on the apron anyway as the third cornerman.
Only two “seconds” are allowed in the corner alongside the trainer, which were Horn’s brother Ben and cut man Stephen Edwards.
Rushton said this acted as proof that Copeland “probably wasn’t thinking clearly”.
‘I knew what was going on and so did the rest of Australia’
Copeland, who was knocked down in a unanimous points defeat to Joel Camilleri on the undercard, hit back at Rushton in an Instagram post.
“To say I was concussed and confused is nothing but defamatory and false,” Copeland said.
“Of course I knew what was going on and so did the rest of Australia.
“I love Jeff Horn and his whole family. I hope the public does not associate Jeff Horn with Glenn Rushton’s garbage. As no-one deserves that.”
During the fight, Copeland acted when Horn did not respond to Rushton’s question as to whether he wanted to continue during the break at the end of the eighth round.
Rushton asked Horn, “What do you want to do?” as Copeland could be heard saying “He’s had enough”.
With Horn non-committal at best, unresponsive at worst, Copeland told the referee to call off the fight.
Former world champion Jeff Fenech led the condemnation of Rushton from ringside in Townsville, describing the exchange as “terrible” and “disgraceful”.
‘It only takes one punch’
In his 2,770-word statement released on the Stretton Boxing Club Facebook page, Rushton argued that just because Horn was losing, he was not badly injured and that it was “nonsense” to suggest Horn could not win.
“There was no physical reason why he couldn’t continue,” Rushton wrote.
“Had this been any other fighter he would have been expected to continue — but everyone seems intent on overly protecting Jeff.”
Rushton said Horn’s corner “carried the baggage of the previous two fights … and were too quick to weaken”, prematurely calling for the towel to be thrown in.
Rushton said he could think of “a hundred fights” where a boxer was seemingly down and out before rising to land a knockout blow, citing Horn’s own battles against Manny Pacquiao and the rematch against Michael Zerafa as examples.
“You don’t stop a fight just because a boxer is losing,” Rushton said.
“You stop a fight if a boxer is injured and can’t continue or is being badly hurt by his opponent — neither of these were the case in Jeff’s fight.
“If you’re losing a fight but you’re unhurt, you continue searching for a way to win, knowing it only takes one punch to turn a fight around.”
Horn lacked ‘pop’
Rushton also aimed to help explain why things went so badly wrong in Townsville.
After explaining that Horn had been suffering from some physical ailments in the week of the fight, including vertigo, Rushton said he was concerned that Horn was “not himself” during the warm-up and that his punches lacked “pop”.
In the ring, Rushton said Tszyu did exactly what Rushton had predicted he would do, but Horn “just wasn’t following the strategy”.
“The hunger didn’t appear to be there to stay on top of Tim,” Rushton said.
Rushton continued to maintain that Horn had not been knocked to the canvas once in the fight, saying the round-three knockdown was a push and that his fighter took a “soft” knee in the sixth.
“I can assure you that Jeff took a lot less punishment in this fight than in some of his previous fights,” Rushton said.
He said that Horn would likely take some time to consider his future, although it was possible that “the flame” was simply gone.