Manny Pacquiao versus Jeff Horn: Preview and prediction

Justin Faux Columnist

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    In the biggest boxing match held on Australian soil in decades, former Queensland-based school teacher Jeff Horn will look to knock out prizefighting royalty.

    Horn, who represented his home nation at the 2012 Olympics in London, had the biggest opportunity of his young career last December in New Zealand. What made it a make-or-break fight for the 29-year-old wasn’t the man standing on the opposite side of the ring, though.

    Instead, Horn had to impress Bob Arum, the man who has been bankrolling blockbuster fights since linking with Muhammad Ali in 1966, and now promotes Manny Pacquiao.

    Facing respected yet shopworn South African puncher Ali Funeka, it was supposed to be a real litmus test for the Queenslander. After all, the last time he faced a veteran it was against over-the-hill former champion Randall Bailey, who stung ‘The Hornet’ with a right-hand during his losing effort against the promising up-and-comer.

    This time, there was no major scare to overcome. Outside of a moment when both fighters clashed heads, sending the Aussie to the mat momentarily, it was smooth sailing, controlling the bout from start-to-finish, eventually adding the former IBO welterweight king to his list of victims in the sixth round.

    Arum, who was in New Zealand to promote his heavyweight charge Anthony Ruiz, who came up short in the main event title fight against Joseph Parker, watched on patiently from his floor-seat during Horn’s one-sided whooping of Funeka.

    When the bout was over, the camera captured the 85-year-old promoter clapping and nodding his head.

    “I could be fighting Manny Pacquiao or Timothy Bradley in my next fight, who knows. I’m ready for any of them.” The mild-mannered fighter said with a smile after the win.

    It was clear that Horn had Arum’s attention. He later admitted that the story of a “clean-cut white kid” who only started boxing to fend off bullies and wound up transitioning from the classroom to the boxing ring was a marketers dream.

    Jeff Horn Boxing 2017 tall

    (AAP Image/Robert Shakespeare)

    Within weeks the rumour mill started rumbling about a potential Pacquiao versus Horn bout in Australia.

    Heading into Sunday’s 12-round championship bout for the WBO welterweight crown, many believe ‘Pac-Man’ is ripe for the picking.

    The 38-year-old former eight-division world champion is past-his-prime, hasn’t won by knockout since 2008, and doesn’t seem to be taking the challenge of Horn seriously, which is underlined by the fact that the champion boxer played on his phone for most of the pre-fight press conference.

    It would be a huge moment for Horn and Aussie boxing in general if he managed to slay the Filipino dragon. But this is boxing, the world’s cruelest sport, and fairy-tale endings are about as common as a Bigfoot sighting.

    Pacquiao, one of the ten best boxers in history, is simply too much for Horn, even in his diminished form.

    Horn does not have the quickness, nor the experience to deal with the blistering hand speed of Pacquiao – something that no sparring partner could emulate. Making matters worse, he doesn’t possess one-punch knockout power either.

    Horn fans will be quick to point out that Pacquiao’s chin isn’t what it used to be, and the Filipino great crumbled when clubbed by Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012, which is absolutely true, but Horn does not have a fraction of the power of Marquez.

    Chances are, Horn won’t knock Pacquiao’s block off, but he won’t end his night looking up at the ceiling lights in Suncorp Stadium either.

    Manny Pacquiao

    (photo: Wiki Commons)

    Granted, Horn has been wounded in combat, but that was against Bailey, one of the most electrifying hitters in the history of face-punching. I seriously doubt that present-day Pacquiao has the killer instinct to put the tough-as-nails Aussie away before the final bell.

    With a knockout for either fighter unlikely, Horn would have to take Pacquiao to school to leave Brisbane with an unbeaten record on Sunday, picking his shots and slowing ‘Pac-Man’ down with a torrent of blows to the body before capitalizing with a right-hand.

    I just don’t see it happening.

    The truth is, if you searched the internet for hours on end you would struggle to find anyone from the other six continents who gives Horn anything more than a fighting chance, and there’s a reason for that.

    Count on Pacquiao to disappoint 55,000-plus fans, cruising to the finish line with a comfortable lead during Sunday afternoon’s ‘Battle of Brisbane’.

    Justin Faux
    Justin Faux

    Justin Faux is a seasoned combat sports scribe. Covering mixed martial arts and boxing since 2007, Justin has been published on NineMSN Australia, Fox Sports, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and dozens of other outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @justinfauxmma.

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