Aggressive Horn will play into Pacquiao’s hands, says Roach

Ryan Songalia

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Aggressive Horn will play into Pacquiao’s hands, says Roach
'When people come to Manny, he eats them up on the way in,' says Freddie Roach

BRISBANE, Australia – Jeff Horn may have the crowd on his side when he fights WBO welterweight titleholder Manny Pacquiao in his hometown of Brisbane this Sunday, July 2, but Pacquiao’s trainer reminds Horn that that’s not always an advantage.

“He’s won 3 fights in a row by knockout, they’re talking about him coming to Manny and being very aggressive and dirty and rough. Sounds like a perfect scenario to me,” said Roach on Tuesday, June 27, during Pacquiao’s media workout just outside Suncorp Stadium.

“I love when people come to Manny. When people come to Manny, he eats them up on the way in.

“It’s been a long time. No predictions right now but the thing is, I’d be very happy if he gets it done early.”

Sometimes being the away team, so to speak, has its perks, like fewer distractions, says Roach.

“A lot of times they fight for the crowd, a lot of times they have to buy their friends all tickets. It’s not always really good to be the hometown guy, in my opinion. I like being the road warrior,” said Roach.

Photo by Wendell Alinea/OSMP

With Pacquiao fighting in front of a large basic cable audience on ESPN – likely to be the most eyeballs on one of his fights outside of the 2015 fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr – Pacquiao has all the incentive to turn in a crowd-pleasing effort to boost his popularity once more.

“One thing about Manny, he does want to please the people. He’s an entertainer, that’s what he knows he has to do. I think he realized now that entertaining people in boxing, it’s usually better with knockouts. To me, I think every fight should end in a knockout,” said Roach.

Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 knockouts) hasn’t scored a knockout since 2009, when he finished off Miguel Cotto in the 12th round to win the welterweight belt for the first time. Horn (16-0-1, 11 KOs), who has not weighed less than 146 pounds since turning pro in 2013, has stopped his last 3 opponents but has fought significantly lower caliber opponents than has Pacquiao, who is fighting – for the first time – an opponent who isn’t a current or former world champion in a decade.

Horn has been knocked down twice in his career, a clean knockdown against Randall Bailey in April 2016, and he was ruled down incorrectly by a headbutt against Ali Funeka in his most recent fight in December. Both knockdowns came in the third round.

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Pacquiao has been down several times in his career, most notably in 2012 when he was knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in their 4th fight.

“We need Manny to go out there and take care of business. Manny’s gonna take care of business,” said Pacquiao’s conditioning coach Justin Fortune, a former heavyweight from Sydney during his time.

“We’ve emphasized that a lot to him, if you wanna be relevant again, prove it in the ring, become relevant, then you’ll go on and pick up some more big money fights. If he puts his mind to it, he destroys anybody in the world, still at 38. He’s ridiculous, the guy’s a ___ freak.”

Fortune blames the survival-first mentality of Pacquiao’s recent opponents for his inability to finish them, despite knocking them down.

“This is the guy to knock out. Everyone says ‘oh he hasn’t knocked anyone else out.’ Timothy Bradley has the best chin in the business. World champion, experienced, doesn’t want to get knocked out. Hard to knock him out. [Chris] Algieri ran, ran, ran and ran. Very hard to knock someone out when they’re running to save their life. [Jessie] Vargas, way better than we thought. He lifted himself for the fight, which is what this guy will do. 

“Everyone fights better when they fight Manny Pacquiao. Everyone fought better when they fought Mike Tyson. They were afraid to die. So they trained and they were virtually fighting to save themselves.” 

Pacquiao, 38, didn’t offer any promises of ending his knockout drought, but says he hopes Horn comes to exchange blows and be physical in the ring.

“All I want from my opponent is to be aggressive and come inside. All I want is not preparing like Floyd Mayweather style, always running,” said Pacquiao.

Horn’s trainer Glenn Rushton tells Rappler that he’s studied Pacquiao’s recent opposition, noting what worked against him and what didn’t, in devising a strategy for his fighter to execute.

“Some fighters have got the strategy right against Manny, some have just got it completely wrong. And of course I’ve learned from those who’ve got it right and those who’ve got it wrong. I looked at what Jeff’s got and crafted a plan that Jeff’s capable of following that should bring us to victory,” says Rushton.

Pacquiao and Horn will come face-to-face on Wednesday morning in Brisbane for the final press conference for the fight. –

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