School teacher Jeff Horn may be Pacquiao's final opponent, says Arum

MANILA, Philippines - Australian fighter Jeff Horn will be Manny Pacquiao’s final opponent at the end of 2017.

So says Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum after “The Hornet” scored a sixth round knockout against former world title challenger Ali Funeka in Auckland, New Zealand over the weekend. Arum was in town to co-promote the WBO heavyweight title fight between Joseph Parker and Andy Ruiz Jr with Horn’s promoter Duco Events, but also had his eye on the unbeaten Horn, a 2012 Olympian from Brisbane who possesses a school teaching degree.

Arum, according to News.com.au, wants to showcase Horn (16-0-1, 11 knockouts) in the United States before having him face 'The Fighting Senator' Pacquiao at the end of 2017 in what would be, supposedly, the Filipino legend’s final boxing match.

“I love the kid. He’s a real throwback fighter and he’ll have a tremendous appeal to boxing fans in the States. He fought a really tough awkward guy and I think he has a big, big future," Arum is quoted.

"We want to build the best stage for him but the truth is that back in the States where a big Pacquiao fight would probably have to happen, Jeff is still not very well known so we first have to put him in with one of the top welterweights to build his name."

Arum reportedly mentioned former Pacquiao foes Timothy Bradley Jr and Jessie Vargas as potential foes for Horn. Both are vastly more experienced than Horn in the pros and would add greater credibility to the 28-year-old should he win.

“Of course I want to fight Pacman,” Horn tells Rappler.com. “He is a champion and a legend. I started watching him when I started boxing. He is a great fighter but I think I am good enough to beat him now. 

“I am so close to him now, I can see the fight happening on the big stage.” 

Horn, who holds a Bachelor of Education degree from Griffith University, made it to the light welterweight quarterfinals of the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Aside for Funeka, his other notable opposition includes a seventh round technical knockout of former WBO junior welterweight and IBF welterweight titleholder Randall Bailey and a decision over two-time title challenger Naoufel Ben Rabeh.

Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs), who turns 38 this month, is coming off a decision win against Vargas in November to win the WBO welterweight title, which Horn is currently the number two rated contender for. Pacquiao is expected to fight in the US again in April or May, when the Senate is expected to be in recess.  

He’s a big name, of course you’ve got to beat big names in the sport to become a legend. Manny Pacquiao is pretty much one of the biggest names in the sport at the moment,” said Horn.Rappler.com