By Paul Mason (@KOBoxingSets)
And so, after much speculation on opponent and location, future Hall of Famer, and current WBO Welterweight Champion, Manny Pacquiao (59-6-2, KO38) travels down under, to Brisbane, Australia and the Suncorp Stadium to defend his Championship against the Australian and relative unknown quantity, Jeff Horn (16-0-1, KO11)
Pacquiao has already etched his Hall of Fame credentials in stone after a stellar career, with World Titles in an astonishing seven different weight classes. The mercurial Filipino began his professional adventure way back in 1995 in the lower weight classes. After eleven straight wins, Rustico Torrecampo knocked him out in the third round of a ten rounder in Manila. Two years later, Pacquiao captured his first World Title, the WBC Flyweight Title, travelling to Thailand to knock out Chatchai Sasakul in eight rounds. After two further wins, Pacquiao then failed to make weight for a defence against Medgoen Singsarat in Thailand and was again stopped in three rounds, this time to a body shot. Six straight wins at Super Bantamweight in his home country followed, before he took a career defining opportunity. On two weeks’ notice, Pacquiao travelled to Las Vegas to challenge for the IBF Super Bantamweight Title against Lehlo Ledwaba on the Oscar De La Hoya v Javier Castillejo undercard. Manny stole the show, stopping the South African in the sixth round, after knocking him down three times during the contest. In an attempt to unify the division, Pacquaio was held to a technical draw by Agopito Sanchez, the WBO Champion, after he suffered a bad cut. Four stoppage victories followed before Pacquiao defeated the legendary Marco Antonio Barrera in a masterclass, stopping the Mexican great in eleven rounds when well ahead. This was truly lift off for the Filipino.
Next came an assault on the Featherweight division, but he ran into a man who he would share four fights with, the Mexican warrior, and at the time WBA and IBF Featherweight Champion, Juan Manuel Marquez. In their first meeting in May 2004, Pacquiao knocked Marquez down three times in the opening round, but Marquez finished the fight like a Champion, snatching a draw. After a homecoming win against Fahsan “3K” Battery, Pacquiao was dealt another loss in the first of another rivalry, this time with Erik Morales. Morales won 115-113 on all three cards in a classic. Ten months later the two met again, this time Pacquiao turned the tables and brutally stopped Morales in ten rounds. Another ten months later the duo fought for a third time. Pacquiao drew a line emphatically under the rivalry by knocking Morales out inside three rounds in Vegas, after dropping him three times.
After knocking out Jorge Solis, Marco Antonio Barrera was then unanimously defeated on points in a rematch, setting Pacquiao up for a crack at the WBC Super Featherweight Title held by Marquez. Another tight tussle saw Pacquiao triumph via a split decision. He immediately stepped up to Lightweight, and relieved David Diaz of his WBC Title, stopping him in nine one sided rounds. Another Hall of fame test was passed in his very next fight, agreeing to fight Oscar De La Hoya in a fight many wrote Pacquiao off in as being too small. De La Hoya weighed 145lbs to Pacquiao’s career highest of 142. It was a mismatch, but to everyone’s surprise Pacquiao whipped De La Hoya for eight rounds, forcing the great to retire on his stool at the end of the round. A pound for pound star was truly born.
This was further enhanced as Pacquiao knocked Ricky Hatton out cold inside two rounds to lift the IBO Light Welterweight Title, and he then wrested the WBO Welterweight Title from Miguel Cotto in what was one of his last great performances, stopping the Puerto Rican in the last round. The WBC Title at Super Welterweight was next, Pacquiao humiliated the bully that was Antonio Margarito, punishing him for the whole twelve rounds before winning on points widely. He then moved back down to Welter to beat Shane Mosley (UD) and Juan Manuel Marquez (Split Decision) before Timothy Bradley controversially outscored him in June 2012. In his next fight he was finally beaten by his great rival when Marquez knocked him out for the full count in six rounds. Brandon Rios was unanimously outpointed in Macau, China, before he regained the WBO Welterweight Title by outscoring Bradley in a rematch. After hammering Chris Algieri back in China, the fight the world had all been waiting for was set. Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao.
The event and build up was huge, the fight however, was a letdown. Mayweather took over from the fourth onwards to comfortably win on points dealing Pacquiao his sixth career loss. He has since rebounded from that May 2015 night, and beat Tim Bradley for a second time in April 2016, before, in his last fight, he looked impressive in beating Jesse Vargas on the scorecards to pick up the WBO Welterweight Title once again.
On Saturday he looks to impress and make one final assault on the pound for pound list.
Conversely, Jeff Horn has been bought through the ranks on a diet of mainly faded former World Champions and fringe contenders, as well as fighting exclusively in his home country. He made his professional bow in March 2013, in Victoria, Australia. The only blot on his record thus far is a technical draw in his fourth contest against Rivan Cesaire. Three fights later he unanimously outpointed former World Title challenger, Naoufel Ben Rabah. He then picked up the WBO Oriental Welterweight Title in his very next fight, in a rematch against Cesaire, this time triumphing via stoppage. Six defences followed, including picking up fringe WBA and IBF Titles along the way, steadily increasing his ranking in the division. Horn the forced a retirement in the seventh round of another former World Title challenger, this time the heavy handed American, Randall Bailey. He picked up the WBO Intercontinental Title with the win, putting him at the high end of their ranking list. Rico Mueller was then stopped in nine one sided rounds, and in Horn’s last contest, he defeated another fringe Title contender in Ali Funeka.
I believe that Pacquaio will have too much speed and know-how for the Aussie, and can see him scoring his first stoppage since 2009, when he stopped Miguel Cotto in the twelfth and final round in Las Vegas. Unless Manny has dramatically declined since his last outing (which I doubt he has) I can see him comfortably outclassing Horn and will triumph late.
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