SAN DIEGO, July 1, 2017 – Let the “real life Rocky” comparisons begin.
In a result few expected, and few agree with, Australian Jeff Horn thrilled his hometown fans in Brisbane’s sold-out Suncorp Stadum with a 12-round unanimous decision victory over the legenday eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao.
American judge Chris Flores and Argentina judge Ramon Cerdan scored it 115-113, American judge Walesa Roldan saw it 117-111. The close cards are plausible; the third is not. Nevertheless, the result stands.
“I guess it’s the crowd behind me and all the support,” said Horn after his win, thanking his team, family, and everyone who believed in him.
A subdued Pacquiao said of Horn, “He was very tough, I didn’t expect that.” As for the scores, “It’s part of the game. That’s the decision of the judges. I respect that … I don’t know, I’m professional. I respect the judges.”
Horn (17-0-1, 11 KOs) showed he wasn’t intimidated by Pacquiao (56-7, 38 KOs), coming out aggressively from the opening bell. Pacquiao had trouble getting his bearings due to Horn’s awkward, rough style. Horn was the visibly bigger man in the ring, and he used that size like a bull against a matador without a cape.
Pacquiao, far from his prime but still the top ranked welterweight in the world, looked like a 38-year-old version of himself. In contrast, the 29-year-old Horn was all over the ring. He was the busier fighter, but he showed his lack of boxing skills with wild punches that missed the mark. Still, his grit and determination were worthy of anyone’s admiration. He wasn’t listening to everyone who said he would lose.
The pair made it an action fight, frequently trading shots against the ropes or the center of the ring. Pacquiao tried his best to set traps for Horn to lean in so he could land counterpunches, but it wasn’t working. At times he showed glimpses of the old PacMan, but his footwork was off and his punching power seemed diminished. Nevertheless, it was Pacquiao landing more punches.
By the third round, Horn’s right eye started showing damage. He had been cut in his last fight. Within another round, Horn’s eye began to bleed and swell. In the sixth round, Pacquiao was cut by an accidental head butt at the left hairline; in the seventh round, Pacquiao was cut again on the headline by another head butt, and this time it bled profusely. It bothered Pacquiao, but it didn’t impair his vision and he was allowed to continue.
In the eighth round, the Aussie fans began to believe the upset was possible. They roared throughout the fight for “The Hornet.” Whether Pacquiao heard those cheers or not, he stepped on the gas in the ninth round, and found the target several times, hurting Horn with multiple right hands. Horn appeared hurt, and Pacquiao swarmed Horn. Horn survived to the bell, and while in his corner, referee Mark Nelson came to talk to Horn and his corner, saying “I’m here to protect you, I think you’ve had enough.” Horn and his team begged for one more round. Nelson gave them the chance, saying to Horn, “You got to show me something.”
Horn said after the fight, “I felt fine in that corner, I wanted to keep going on, I wasn’t really that hurt I was just a little buzzed.”
“I didn’t expect his toughness, I mean I tried to knock him out in the ninth round, but he survived,” said Pacquiao. “The ninth round, I thought I was going to win the fight.” Pacquiao admitted the cuts on his head and the blood affected him “a lot.”
Horn mustered everything he had left. Pacquiao was tired after his effort, and it allowed Horn to survive. With two rounds left, it would come down to which man wanted it more. Horn won the tenth round, Pacquiao the 11th round. In the final round, both fighters wanted to leave a statement for the judges to remember, trading against the ropes and in the center of the ring.
“I thought I was outpointing him, I thought I was coming forward and landing the cleaner blows,” said Horn.
CompuBox stats, while not perfect, show something different than the judges saw. Manny Pacquiao landed 182 of 573 punches thrown (32 percent); Horn just 92 of 625 punches (15 percent). Pacquiao landed 59 of 163 jabs (31 percent); Horn just 19 of 197 jabs (10 percent). Pacquiao landed 123 or 380 power punches (32 percent), and Horn barely half of this, 73 of 428 punches (17 percent).
Horn said he could hardly believe the win. “There’s lots of thoughts coming through … This is a win for all you guys out there being bullied. Look, I thought it would be a lot harder to get the decision. I thought I would need a knockout to win this fight.”
Trainer Freddie Roach said prior to the fight Pacquiao should retire if he lost. But Pacquiao said he’s not going anywhere, and he will invoke his rematch clause for another fight with Horn. “We have a rematch clause, so no problem.
Yeah, definitely. I’m still here – I’ll continue,” said Pacquiao. Horn said he’d be happy to give Pacquiao a rematch.
Horn fought like a man with nothing to lose and everything to gain, and in the end it’s what won him the fight; yes, with help from the judges, but Horn made it a plausible outcome. Not an outright robbery, merely a fight everyone can argue about until the rematch later this year.
Horn benefitted from exceeding all expectations. Everyone saw the heart and the refusal to go quietly. Horn believed in himself, and he made believers out of a lot of people. Pacquiao looked his age, and he struggled. The Pacquiao of five years ago would have beat Horn, but as all athletes find out eventually, it’s impossible to turn back the clock.
On the undercard, native son David Toussaint of Australia (11-0, 8 KOs) remained undefeated with a split decision win over American Shane Mosley Jr. (10-2, 7 KOs) in eight rounds. Mosley, son of former three-division world champion Shane Sr., didn’t look much like his famous father. Toussaint’s solid fundamental skills had Mosley under control throughout the fight.
Popular young Irish sensation Michael Conlan did exactly what he needed to do, stopping Australian Jarrett Owen (5-5-3, 2 KOs) in three rounds. Conlan, now 3-0 with three knockouts, knew he had to seize the opportunity to introduce himself to a large, worldwide audience with a good showing. Once he started working to the body with bad intentions, Owen’s fate was sealed. Conlan nailed Owen with a perfectly placed left hook to the live, hurting Owen. He added a few punches for good measure, and then looked to referee Tony Kettlewell, sure he would stop the fight. When he didn’t, Conlan landed a few rights to the head, and Owen’s corner threw in the towel.
In the co-main event, Jerwin Ancajas of the Philippines (27-1-1, 18 KOs) scored with his own impressive body work to successfully defend his IBF super flyweight against Teiru Kinoshita of Japan (25-2-1, 8 KOs). Ancajas landed a right hook at 1:53 of the seventh round. It was an action packed fight,but Ancajas showed he’s a player who deserves a shot at the top names in this talented division.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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