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BRISBANE'S blonde bomber Shannon O'Connell, a world-class fighter and mother of two, has been sparring with some of Australian boxing's best male fighters in the lead up to next week's world title bout.
O'Connell, 34, will be one of the star fighters on the Jeff Horn-Gary Corcoran undercard at the Brisbane Convention Centre on Wednesday week, perhaps the best card ever to showcase Queensland boxing to the world.
She faces Hungarian Kleopatra Tolnai, a 20-year-old who has won half of her 28 fights. O'Connell has 15 wins and a draw in 22 starts and is trying to kickstart her career after back-to-back losses including a points defeat for the IBF super-bantamweight title in Argentina in June.
As well as sparring Jarrett Owen, her teammate at Newstead's Fortitude Gym, she has been sparring Andrew and Jason Moloney, twin brothers from Melbourne who are both in the world's top 10 in their divisions.
"They've all given me some great rounds," O'Connell said.
"Andrew is Australia's only fighter to win both a Commonwealth Games gold medal as an amateur and a Commonwealth title as a professional.
"Sparring them is exactly what I need."
As well as O'Connell, the Horn-Corcoran undercard will feature Logan's Alex Leapai, the first Australian in more than 100 years to fight for the world heavyweight title, rising Gold Coast star Paul Murdock who is being guided to a world super-middleweight title shot next year, and Paul Fleming, a 2008 Olympian from Tullly, who is unbeaten in 24 pro fights.
The card will also feature super-slick West Australian Nathaniel May and Sydney's world lightweight title challenger Lenny Zappavigna.
Gary Corcoran is training at O'Connell's gym where one of the trainers, Todd Kidd, twice beat Horn in the amateurs.
Horn was voted Queensland's Sports Star of the Year last week for his July win over Manny Pacquiao and is a solid favourite to retain his WBO welterweight title against the rugged English gypsy next week.
But many American experts are saying even if Horn gets past Corcoran next week, his title reign will end next April against American Terence Crawford in Las Vegas. Crawford will be ringside in Brisbane next week on a scouting mission.
Former world champ Shawn Porter says Crawford "is going to dominate Jeff Horn for sure. He has the range, the boxing ability. He is smooth. He is tough''.
Porter told BoxingScene.com: "Terence Crawford is a complete fighter against someone like Horn who doesn't even have 20 fights. That is a long shot for Horn but it was a long shot with him and Pacquiao. The difference with Pacquiao and Crawford is that Crawford is in a different part of his career.
"We thought Pacquiao retired and we saw him come back. Crawford is a long way from retiring. He is a long way from being washed over and I am looking for him to wash up Horn."