- Wajaja King
- Category: Sports
- Sunday, 02 July 2017 07:50
Jeff Horn defeats Manny Pacquiao to claim WBO welterweight title at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane...
Manny Pacquiao suffered a damaging defeat on Sunday as the unheralded Australian Jeff Horn caused a stunning upset with a points victory at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
After 12 absorbing rounds of boxing in front of more than 50,000, Horn showed the more enterprising combinations to rip the WBO welterweight world title away from his opponent leaving Pacquiao with serious questions on his future in the ring.
The Filipino was hot favourite to win his 60th fight and wanted another shot at Floyd Mayweather, but was immediately challenged by Horn to a rematch, after the three judges scored the contest 117-111, 115-113, 115-113 in his favour.
‘I’ve just believed since I was very young that I could do this,’ Horn said in an interview, before welcoming the prospect of a rematch with Pacquiao.
Pacquiao was knocked off his stride by the aggression of the taller and heavier Australian in the early rounds but looked to have weathered the storm as the fight wore on and Horn tired.
With blood pouring from both sides of his forehead after accidental butts, the 38-year-old southpaw launched a fierce assault on Horn which nearly ended the contest in round nine.
The exhausted Australian, who was cut above his right eye in round two, battled gamely on through the final three rounds, though, to win a decision that would have surprised some given Pacquiao’s late dominance.
Pacquiao has now lost four of his nine fights and this latest setback could signal the end of his career, with trainer Freddie Roach saying in the build-up he would encourage his charge to retire if he was beaten by Horn.
The veteran had bounced back from his defeat to Floyd Mayweather in 2015 by overcoming Tim Bradley in their rubber match and comfortably beating Jessie Vargas to become a world champion once more.
‘Very tough. I didn’t expect that tough,’ Pacquiao said after succumbing to the seventh defeat of an illustrious 68-fight professional career. ‘It’s okay, it’s part of the game. That’s the decision of the judges, I respect that.’
Pacquiao, whose record now reads 59-7-2 and who had hoped for an impressive victory to fire talk of another fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr, said he would ‘absolutely’ return for the contracted rematch against Horn.
An emotional Horn brandished a walking stick as he also called out the undefeated Mayweather, who has come out of retirement at 40 years of age for a 12-round crossover boxing match against mixed martial arts champion Conor McGregor.
‘This is no joke, which one does he want? The walking stick or the gloves?’ the Queenslander said.
Pacquiao had gone 12 consecutive fights without a knockout victory, the longest streak of his career, while home favourite Horn went into the contest with three such wins to his name.
Horn was once a school teacher, but here it was the southpaw from the Philippines who looked to teach him a lesson in boxing, having entered the fight with a staggering 443 rounds under his belt compared to his opponent’s 94.
Pacquiao took the acclaim of supporters as he entered the stadium to American rock band Survivor’s 1980s hit Eye of the Tiger, but it was Horn with the steely gaze as he towered over him for the referees’ instructions before the first bell.
Underdog Horn, who came into the bout having won 16 of his previous fights with one draw, threw wild shots in the opening round, but Pacquiao’s short reach has also been exposed with the passing of time meaning neither landed cleanly early on.
The 29-year-old Horn might have taken the opening round, but it was the Filipino who shaded the next two, leaping in with a right hook before Horn was unsettled by another left hand.
Both were willing to trade blows, with the awkwardness of Horn’s style stopping Pacquiao from taking over – but bleeding started to emerge from beneath the Australian’s right eye heading into round four.
Growing into the contest, Pacquiao sensed an opportunity, hitting home with a sharp left-hand counter that was followed up with a combination but Horn responded well, jabbing and mauling inside to edge the fifth.
Each round, Horn forced Pacquiao to fight the full three minutes, and another big exchange in the centre of the ring left the 11-time world champion across eight divisions worse off from an accidental head collision.
Pacquiao was cut by the blow to his hairline, causing blood to drip onto his chest, and Horn looked to test if his vision was impaired landing a hard right upper which caused his opponent to stumble in a rousing seventh round.
Horn was now shading things on points and he began to set the pace, squaring up and remaining awkward, forcing Pacquiao at times to clinch but it was he who marginally took the eighth having set an aggressive pace to show plenty of resolve.
Pacquiao then stepped on the gas in the ninth, and Horn was hurt by a left hand to cause bleeding and swelling on the right side of his face. It left his corner passing clear instructions heading into the 10th: show something or we’ll stop it.
Horn duly responded, rising from his stool to show he wasn’t finished – but Pacquiao absorbed his punches before landing a clean left that asked questions of his opponent’s chin.
The unheralded Australian again responded with a stiff jab, digging his feet in as his corner had instructed to do enough to shade the round, but Pacquiao produced some classic boxing in the 11th in a desperate bid to regain control.
Both exchanged blows in a stirring final round, as Horn attempted to exert late pressure and despite another classy, clean left from Pacquiao, it was the Australian who showed the greater combinations as the fight went to the scorecard.