Skye Nicolson walking into the Hornet’s nest
Las Vegas: Australian boxing's golden girl Skye Nicolson will use Jeff Horn's rise as inspiration to steel an Olympic Games dream in the hope she can shock the world.
Nicolson was in Las Vegas to watch her close mate Horn (18-1-1) fight pound-for-pound king Terence Crawford (33-0) last weekend, where he ultimately dropped his World Boxing Organisation welterweight crown at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Nicolson wants to turn heads on the world stage and the featherweight boxing prospect shot to fame when she clinched the gold medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games this year.
It was a dream come true for the 22-year-old AIS-based boxer, who says "it went exactly how I had envisioned it over and over for years".
Now the rising star that once caught the attention of Floyd Mayweather in the gym has turned her attention to an even bigger stage.
"The Olympics have always been the big goal for me, so Tokyo 2020 is my next big goal," Nicolson said.
"Then well sit down and look at what I want to do next after that. Definitely not [turning professional] in the next year and a half to two years, but after that its definitely something well be looking into.
"Ive still got plenty on, Im boxing in Indonesia in three weeks for Boxing Australia, so Im staying active.
"Then I come back and I go over to Perth for the womens worlds trials, so I have to re-qualify for the Australian team again there and it will be preparation in the lead up to the world championships in India in November."
An Olympic Games appearance would see Nicolson follow the same path as Horn, who reached the quarter-finals in London in 2012 before turning professional.
The man Nicolson knew then is the same one she knows now. He has fought on the world's biggest stage but she says Horn hasn't changed a bit since they boxed together for Queensland amateur teams.
"He is so genuine, the Jeff Horn you see on TV is the same Jeff Horn that will be sitting in the lounge room with his family," Nicolson said.
"He is who he is, and I dont think he would ever change for anyone. Thats something I really love about Jeff, hes so down to earth and just a good Aussie bloke. Hes a great ambassador for the sport and for the country."
Nicolson is no stranger to success on the world stage after her Gold Coast triumph this year, and the presence of someone special made it even more remarkable.
For years Nicolson heard she was the spitting image of brother Jamie, Australia's first boxer to win a world championship medal.
It took years before she realised just how similar they were when she saw footage of him boxing. Nicolson had never known before because her brother died in a car crash the year before she was born.
It made winning a gold medal on home soil extra special. With a look to the heavens, she knew Jamie was there.
"I felt like he was definitely there with me throughout the whole experience," Nicolson said.
"He got pretty badly ripped off in the semi-final of his Commonwealth Games back in Auckland in 1990, so the semi-final for me was a massive one.
"I wanted to win that one for both of us and I feel like that was my best performance of the tournament as well. I was just so glad to make the final, and then to win the final was just even more exciting."
*Caden Helmers is in Las Vegas as a guest of Duco Events.
Caden Helmers is a sports reporter for The Canberra Times
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