MANILA, Philippines – Australian underdog Jeff Horn knows that many people have never heard his name before this month, but said that shouldn’t be the reason why people discount his chances against Manny Pacquiao.
Horn, who is unbeaten but largely unknown outside of Australia, has been floated around as a possible opponent for the Filipino living legend, with Pacquiao’s promoter and Horn’s co-promoter Bob Arum scheduled to meet with Dean Lonergan of Duco Events on Tuesday (Wednesday Manila time) to discuss the possibility of a fight in Australia for April 23.
Horn’s hometown of Brisbane, which holds the 52,500-capacity SunCorp Stadium, and Sydney had been mentioned as possible sites. Arum tweeted out earlier on Monday, January 9, that, aside from Australia, offers had also come in from Russia, United Kingdom and the United States to host a Pacquiao fight.
“If you hear a name that you’ve never heard before thrown into the mix of these big fights, it’s only natural to go ‘Who the hell is this guy? I’ve never heard of him,’” said Horn (16-0-1, 11 knockouts), the number two ranked contender for Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight title.
“I think I’m ready. Ever since I first started fighting I’ve jumped in the deep end straight away. This is no different for me. I can remember going to an Australian title fight before I’d even started fighting and saying ‘I reckon I beat these guys.’”
Horn, an Olympic quarterfinalist at the 2012 Games who holds a Bachelor of Education degree to teach secondary school from Griffith University, has built his 4-year pro career against aging veterans like Randall Bailey, Naoufel Ben Rabeh and Ali Funeka, the latter of whom Horn finished in 6 rounds last month in New Zealand as Arum watched on.
Horn’s resume’ pales significantly in comparison with Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs), an 8-division champion whose last 18 opponents had been former or current world champions. Horn is 3 inches taller than Pacquiao at 5-foot-9 and 10 years younger at 28.
A fight with Horn would also present Pacquiao with an opportunity to hit reset on free television after dwindling pay-per-view numbers saw him sell a reported 400,000 units for a third clash with Timothy Bradley Jr in April of 2016 and 300,000 for his most recent fight against Jessie Vargas in November of 2016.
Bigger than Manny
“I think I’ve got the advantage on the physical side because I’m bigger than Manny. He’s come up from such light weight divisions. But he’s shown obviously that he can take down guys even my size,” said Horn.
“I think I’ve got the speed, I’ve got a similar style to his so I’m a good mover. It’s gonna be harder for him to lay those shots on me because he’s fought a few guys that don’t move as well.”
Australia has served as a legends graveyard in recent years with Shane Mosley, Roy Jones Jr and others having lost there. Horn doesn’t think he’s getting a faded version of Pacquiao after watching his one-sided decision win over Vargas.
“I think Pacquiao’s still right up there. He hasn’t lost much from where he was in his prime. I wouldn’t say I’ve got him at a really good time. He’s still world champion, he still beat the Jessie Vargas just recently and he’s a young hungry fighter. I do think he’s going down a little bit and I could take advantage of that,” said Horn.
Horn’s trainer/manager Glenn Rushton feels the fight would be a success due to the number of Filipinos currently residing in Australia (171,233 according to the 2011 Census) and the media interest so far in the fight.
“I think it’ll just go gangbusters here. The media are already fully invested, they’re absolutely all over it. The back page of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Courier Mail, Channel 9 has been running stories on us and will run a big documentary. The media are pushing the state and local governments to try and secure the rights,” said Rushton.
All Horn and his team can do for now is wait for the news.
“I look at all the world champions at the moment in the welterweight division and I see myself beating all of them at the moment. If I didn’t see that I would never get past the step that I’m at and I’d never get a world title. The first step in boxing is believing in yourself and I believe that I can beat Manny Pacquiao or any of the other world champions that are out there right now,” says Horn. – Rappler.com
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