BRISBANE, Australia, Jun 30 – Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao faces unheralded Australian challenger Jeff Horn in Sunday’s world welterweight title fight in Brisbane in pursuit of a dream rematch with Floyd Mayweather.
The Pacquiao camp says it is anticipating a “short and sweet” win over the unbeaten Horn, a former school teacher and 2012 Australian Olympian, before an expected 50,000 crowd at Suncorp Stadium.
The eight-weight world champion, 38, one of the greatest fighters of his generation, is an overwhelming favourite to improve on his fabulous career record of 59 wins, six losses and two draws at the expense of Horn (16-0-1).
It is revealing that the Pacquiao camp has already spoken of setting up another showdown with the unbeaten ‘Money’ Mayweather, who outpointed ‘Pac-Man’ in the “Fight of the Century” two years ago.
“We’re chasing a rematch with Floyd Mayweather and we know he has to score a spectacular knockout win over Jeff Horn if that’s going to happen,” Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach said.
“I’m looking for a big win in Brisbane so we can go on to bigger and better things.
“I’ve been looking for a big knockout from him for a long time now and I think you’re going to see it in this fight.”
While Pacquiao has been respectful towards his relatively novice Aussie opponent, members of his entourage have talked dismissively of Horn’s chances of causing one of boxing’s greatest upsets.
“Manny is one of the greats and Jeff Horn is in a different league,” Pacquiao’s Australian strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune told reporters.
“If Manny puts his mind to it he destroys anybody in the world. He’s busted up some of the greats. Jeff Horn is the guy to knock out and we’re in the hurt business.”
– Knockout drought –
Pacquiao has beaten some of the best — Oscar de la Hoya, Shane Mosley, Ricky Hatton, Jesse Vargas — while 29-year-old Horn is stepping up in class substantially in the World Boxing Organization welterweight title fight.
“This guy (Horn) has nowhere near the experience at all. He hasn’t walked out in front of 50,000 people, ever,” Fortune said.
“Nerves take a lot out of you when you fight. Manny’s done it, he’s used to it, it’s no big deal. Jeff’s not. I don’t think they’ve realised that.”
Pacquiao, who is also a senator in the Philippines, regained the welterweight world title belt he lost to Mayweather when he knocked Vargas down in the second round and cruised to a unanimous decision in November.
He will be making his first defence against Horn after a big-money fight with British boxer Amir Khan in the United Arab Emirates fell through earlier this year.
“In all my years of boxing, I have never been as motivated and fired up as this fight,” Pacquiao said.
“My team is very happy with my preparation. I am looking forward to this and I will be going home as world champion.”
Horn stands to make huge money — reported at seven figures — if he can defy the odds and inflict only Pacquiao’s seventh defeat inside the ring.
“Even though Pacquiao is the smaller man he’s the biggest mountain I’ve had to climb,” Horn said.
Pacquiao hasn’t scored a knockout in eight years and Horn says he suspects Pacquiao fights more cautiously since his knockout against Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012.
“Ever since that knockout loss against Juan Manuel Marquez, Manny doesn’t pull the trigger like he used to when he was on his big run of wins,” Horn said.
“He’s looked good in his last two fights but he hasn’t been able to win inside the distance for a long time and I think that’s because of the KO loss he suffered against Marquez in 2012.
“I don’t know if he has lost his knockout punch and I hope I don’t find out on Sunday.”