By Ian S Palmer
Manny Pacquiao will be taking his show on the road this weekend as he heads down to Brisbane, Australia to face undefeated challenger and former phys-ed teacher Jeff Horn. The fight will take place in front of about 50,000 fans at the Suncorp Stadium. It’ll be held on the afternoon of Sunday, July 2nd down under while the time difference means it’ll air on the evening of Saturday, July 1st in North America. The bout for Pacquiao’s WBO Welterweight Title can be seen on ESPN in the U.S, Super Channel in Canada, Box Nation in the UK and on pay-per-view in Australia and the Philippines.
The 38-year-old Pacquiao regained the belt from Jessie Vargas by unanimous decision last November in Las Vegas. The southpaw champ, who hails from General Santos City in the Philippines, will climb through the ring ropes with a record of 59-6-2 with 38 Kos. He’s still an excellent boxer with fine skills and speed, but Pacquiao’s power hasn’t been evident for quite some time. He hasn’t stopped an opponent in more than six years as the last man he stopped was Miguel Cotto of Puerto Rico when he finished him in the 12th round back in 2009.
Still, Pacquiao’s knockout ratio currently stands at a decent 57 per cent, but he can’t depend on his power anymore. His chin has held up well since Juan Manuel Marquez landed the perfect punch on him in the sixth round back in December of 2012, but he has been stopped in three of his six career losses. Since he’s been on the canvas a few times during his career he needs to keep his focus at all times and make sure he doesn’t leave himself wide open. Horn wants to make a name for himself on the world stage here and the best way to do that will be to win this fight in a convincing manner such as a KO.
Pacquiao stands just over 5-feet-5-inches tall and owns a 67-inch reach. He’s boxed 443 rounds since he turned pro back in 1995. He also has tons of big fight experience against the best in the world after winning world titles in eight weight classes. Pacquiao has simply faced all the top boxers of his era and has lost just half a dozen times. Like himself, a good number of his past opponents will be ending up in the hall of fame and this is what makes him a boxing legend. He’s fleet of foot with great hand speed and controls most fights with his right jab, stinging left hand and lightning-quick combinations.
The 29-year-old Horn is unbeaten and will be fighting in front of his hometown fans. He enters the contest with a near-perfect record of 16-0-1 and has 11 Kos under his belt. He’s a former Olympian who reached the quarterfinals of the Games in London, England five years ago as a junior welterweight. He turned pro the next year and has fought 94 rounds since then. Horn has won a few inter-continental titles along the way and was last in the ring back in December when he beat Ali Funeka by a sixth-round stoppage in New Zealand.
Horn’s toughest opponents to date have been Funeka, Randall Bailey, Ahmed El Mousaoui and Rico Mueller. His draw was a three-round technical affair with Rivan Cesaire in August, 2013 when the fight was halted due to a cut suffered by Cesaire. Horn has a decided 3.5-inch height advantage over Pacquiao as he stands 5-foot-9 and also has a slim one-inch edge in reach. Even though he had a good amateur career, he has nowhere near the experience that Pacquiao has. However, he does have a puncher’s chance since his knockout ratio is currently 65 per cent.
Pacquiao is simply the more talented of the two, but that doesn’t guarantee anything. He’ll need to work hard for all 12 rounds and make sure he doesn’t get tagged directly on the chin. Horn has proven to be quite a durable fighter, but may have problems with Pacquiao’s speed and movement. Pacquiao’s undoubtedly entering the twilight of his boxing career and has the disadvantage when it comes to age, height and reach, but should still have enough speed and boxing skills to take care of Horn.