After initial talks fell through earlier this year, Jeff Horn is finally getting the shot of a lifetime in his upcoming bout with Manny Pacquiao at Suncorp Stadium in his native Brisbane (July 2nd).
Read any press about the event, and you’re sure to come across the phrase “biggest fight in Australian boxing history.” You are also sure to come across the following sentiment: the only thing lower than the Aussie’s name recognition are his chances to upset Pac-Man.
Despite being nine years younger and significantly bigger (175 cm versus 166 cm; 173 cm reach versus 170 cm reach), Horn is being written off in most fight previews.
In a rare moment of circumspection, fight promoter Bob Arum, who represents both Pacquiao and Horn, told ESPN that Horn is a “really rugged guy. He’s a good fighter … Does he beat Manny? Probably not.”
Referee and judge Bruce McTavish, who scored Horn’s last fight, a sixth-round TKO of Ali Funeka, was even more pessimistic about Horn’s chances. He told the Manila Times back in January that Horn “has no real talent … (and is) too young and raw for Manny.” He predicted Horn wouldn’t last four rounds.
Randy McInnis, who curates Sports Betting Dime’s top picks for online sportsbooks and runs the odds-making side of the site, isn’t so sure. “Pacquiao is a deserving favorite, don’t get me wrong. But there are rumblings that give me pause, and could entice me to bet on Horn at long odds.”
Pacquiao, who is a -700 to -1000 favorite depending on where you look, “doesn’t seem to be training all that well and has so many other responsibilities in his life, being a senator and chair of the Public Works Committee. He’d never even heard of Horn before he took the fight. Good luck getting motivated. You can bet Horn will be the hungrier – and likely better prepared — fighter,” added McInnis.
McInnis is correct that Pacquiao’s training didn’t get off to a stellar start. WBN reported how even trainer Freddy Roach, who’s hoping the Horn fight is just a stepping stone to a Floyd Mayweather rematch acknowledged this last week. As the Rappler reported, Roach described Pacquiao’s training as “behind schedule” in late May, and noted that “his sparring was the worst he’d ever seen from him.
Pac-Man has evidently turned things up a notch in the last week. His Aussie training partner, George Kambosos, lauded the speed and power he displayed in recent sparring sessions. But there’s less than a month to go before the fight, and Manny is now 38 years old.
How much of the rust seen in his early training can be removed with good old-fashioned baking soda, and how much is the permanent oxidization of 67 career fights? Horn has excellent speed for a fighter his size, which gives him the opportunity to capitalize if Pacquiao’s legendary quickness has started to ebb. And now is a good time to remember that, in the long run, Father Time is undefeated.