It’s the fight that undefeated Australian welterweight Jeff Horn has been dreaming of. The contracts are nearly ready and on Sunday, July 2, the 29-year-old challenges the legendary Manny Pacquaio for the Filipino’s WBO World Welterweight title. Can he possibly dethrone the champion – and has Pacquaio worked out who he is yet?
The welterweight title fight at the Suncorp Stadium is set to be Australia’s most lucrative fight. It’s believed the title match will be financially supported by the Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council. There are still a few points to be confirmed but everyone seems fully confident the title fight will go ahead. It’s believed the fight could bring $200 million worth of economic benefits to the state of Queensland (which is still a fraction of how much Pacquaio has earned from his boxing career).
So, here we have the Fighting Schoolteacher against the high-ranking politician – not your average fight. Horn has a Bachelor of Education degree and Pacquaio is a top politician in the Philippines. School has played a big part in the life of Jeff Horn: he took up boxing after being bullied by a gang at school and since then, he has been determined to never have it reoccur.
If Horn can give Pacquaio a boxing lesson in July, he could be lined up to face other title holders in the division and give Australian boxing a massive boost. Before this fight takes place, perhaps he could have a classic Australia versus England clash against IBF titleholder Kell Brook? The Englishman puts that title on the line against top contender Errol Spence Jr in May, but odds at bet365 are 8/11 on the challenger dethroning the champion.
Who are you?
Pacquio’s fight with Horn is not the defending champion’s first choice. Earlier this year, he asked his Twitter followers to determine his next challenger. For a while, it looked as if it’d be Britain’s Amir Khan who would be facing Pacquaio in the United Arab Emirates, but that deal fell through. Instead, he is facing the lesser known Horn and even tweeted “I don’t know who Jeff Horn is.” When the first punch lands in July, he will soon find out who he’s up against.
Horn may be nowhere near as experienced as his opponent but strongly believes that he can win. His opinion is he can beat an ageing Pacquaio and believes he can “out-muscle” him. Horn has mentioned how his scheduled opponent has not been getting many recent knock-out wins since moving up to the welterweight division. That is a good point to make, as the last time Pac-Man did have a win an inside the distance win in this division was in 2009 when he stopped Miguel Cotto. Since then, he has had nine wins and three defeats and no stoppage or KO victories.
Horn can get a degree of confidence from the fact that Pacquaio was himself knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez five years ago. The Australian challenger has won each of his last three fights inside the distance, but he did suffer a knockdown and perforated ear drum en route to beating former two-time world champion Randall Bailey. Last December, he scored another win over a former world champion, Ali Funeka, stopping him in the sixth round. Currently ranked the #2 welterweight challenger, now he gets his chance to become world champion and cause one of the largest upsets in recent years.
Pacquaio isn’t the force that he used to be but still dreams of a rematch with Floyd Mayweather despite being soundly beaten in their first clash. Horn lacks experience against the very best in the division but a win here would totally change his career. It’s a massive task for the Fighting Schoolteacher but all of Australia will be behind him in July.