Jeff Horn’s rapid ascent to the top of world boxing is just the start of Dean Lonergan’s ambitious plan to revive the sport in Australia.
The Duco Events boss is plotting for a fresh crop of fighters to follow the Horn blueprint and go from anonymous domestic battlers to rich international stars.
Two of them – Rohan Murdock and Nathaniel May – fought on the undercard of Horn’s WBO welterweight title defence against Gary Corcoran on Wednesday night.
Both secured crushing wins that impressed Top Rank supremo Bob Arum so much they are in the frame for career-defining fights in the US next year.
“You are seeing the start of a rebirth,” Lonergan said.
“We’re not interested in winning world titles – that’s just part of the deal.
“We want to produce fighters to become great sportsmen for this country and produce great sporting moments and become legends.
“We started it three years ago by signing Jeff Horn, progressing him, giving him the hard fights, building a relationship with Bob, who’s got an amazing platform through ESPN.
“There’s a lot of talent here that’s just got to be developed correctly.” Murdock, 25, is a perfect example.
The Gold Coast super middleweight hasn’t lost for the past six years but is unknown to most Australian sports fans.
He’s being lined up to fight two southpaws on the undercards of WBO champion Gilberto Ramirez’s events next year in Texas and Mexico.
If he comes through unscathed, Lonergan wants to stage a world title fight between Ramirez and Murdock on the sands of Surfers Paradise.
Lonergan certainly isn’t afraid to think big – it’s understood he wanted to stage Horn’s fight against Corcoran on Brisbane’s Story Bridge but couldn’t overcome the logistical hurdles.
Arum has bought into his vision and believes Murdock has a clean-cut look that could appeal to US audiences, just like Horn.
“I’m looking to make really good fights and the fact we could do the championship fight on the Gold Coast is really attractive,” Arum said.