The former schoolteacher stunned Manny Pacquiao to win the WBO world welterweight title, amidst suggestions from some quarters that he did not deserve to win.
Jeff Horn beat Pacquiao, an unprecedented eight-time world champion, following a unanimous points decision in Brisbane, Australia. Pacquiao’s coaches and some celebrities including Lennox Lewis and Kobe Bryant were critical of the judges’ call on the result.
But the relatively unknown Australian, 29, said he was worthy of the win. “There will always be a backlash where people say I got lucky, or whatever,” he told reporters on Monday.
“There will always be the naysayers saying I did not win the fight, but I felt like I won the fight. A lot of Queenslanders think I won the fight and people around the world.”
Pacquiao’s Australian coach, former heavyweight boxer Justin Fortune, had described the referee as “sketchy” and the judges as “crazy” following the bout. However Pacquiao, 38, congratulated his opponent and said he respected the decision.
The Australian responded by paying tribute to his rival, describing him as “an absolute warrior, a legend of the sport”.
Horn, who taught at a Brisbane school until only recently, said he believed his former students would be proud.
“I have a lot to do with the school still,” he said. “I don’t go there and teach but I still go to the schools and I know the kids will be proud of what I have done.”
Nicknamed “The Hornet”, he also drew praise from admirers including Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
“What a great Australian story – congratulations,” Mr Turnbull said.
His grandfather, Ray Horn, said he was also very proud.
“If anyone had ever told me I would have a grandchild I would have found it hard to believe,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
“But I would think they were nuts if they told me I would be a grandfather of a world champion one day.”
More than 51,000 spectators watched the bout at Brisbane’s Lang Park stadium.
Horn set up his victory with an aggressive start before both fighters tired in the final rounds.
Reports claim the underdog won a guaranteed $500,000 from his fight against Pacquiao, and he could now be set for even bigger paydays.
Horn has already challenged US boxer Floyd Mayweather to a fight and said he would consider a re-match against Pacquiao.