On the day Jeff Horn beat Manny Pacquiao before 51,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium, his mate Joe Goodall walked to the boxing ring beside him fully believing that one day he could be fighting at the same venue for the heavyweight championship of the world.
That day is drawing closer as Goodall, 25, a gentle giant outside the ring, has just returned from the world amateur boxing championships in Hamburg, Germany with super-heavyweight bronze, Australia’s first medal at the world titles for 26 years.
The 193cm, 104kg speedster is favoured to take gold at next year’s Commonwealth Games following his silver at Glasgow in 2014.
He and Horn trained together for years as anonymous battlers but are both now riding a wave of international success propelled by their coach Glenn Rushton, who taught both of them to throw their first punch.
“Joe was a natural from the very first night in the gym,’’ Rushton said.
“It took Jeff a while to really grasp the basics of boxing but I knew Joe would be a star from his first session. He has now proved himself to be one of the best fighters in the world in what is a glamour weight division.’’
In his first three fights in Hamburg, Goodall beat boxers from Egypt, Ukraine and Russia before dropping a split decision in his semi-final to three-time world champ Magomedrasul Majidov of Azerbaijan.
Majidov, who went on to take gold in Hamburg, won his first world title in 2011, beating England’s Anthony Joshua, who this year stopped all-time great Wladimir Klitschko before 90,000 fans at Wembley.
Goodall says Horn’s epic triumph over Pacquiao on July 2 was just the boost he needed to perform against the world’s best.
“To see Jeff rise through the ranks and become world champion has me on a high too,’’ Goodall said.
“I took up boxing at 17 after suffering a hip injury playing Aussie rules for the Western Taipans and Glenn taught Jeff and me everything we know about the sport.’’
Goodall and Horn are back training together at Rushton’s Stretton Gym as Horn prepares for his first defence of his world welterweight title, most likely against lanky 185cm Englishman Bradley Skeete, the world No.3.
Goodall’s world championship medal was the first for an Australian since Casino’s Justin Rowsell (lightweight) and Brisbane’s Stefan Scriggins (welterweight) both won bronze at the 1991 titles in Sydney.
The Gold Coast’s Jamie Nicholson won Australia’s first medal (also bronze) at the 1989 world titles in Moscow.