Jeff Horn’s fight with Manny Pacquiao looks set to at least be delayed until next year as the Australian bids for a return to action in the coming months.
Horn defeated Pacquaio via a contested decision on home soil in July to claim the WBO welterweight title and wanted an instant return to prove doubters over his first triumph wrong.
Due to events beyond his and promoter Duco Events’ control, Pacquiao is unable to commit to fighting Horn again this year and recently threw a spanner in the works when stating he wanted the fight held in the Philippines.
Duco were under the impression Pacquiao would be back down under for any second fight with Horn, and according to matchmaker Stuart Duncan, are now ploughing on with plans for a first defense of the championship before Christmas.
“Manny Pacquiao initially agreed to a November 12 rematch after taking his senate committee duties into consideration,” Duncan exclusively told World Boxing News.
“But he wouldn’t sign a contract until he could work out and plan a camp with his team. He then came back to us and said the Filipino Government had advised him that he needed to attend a trade delegation to China, so he said this side of Christmas is out, which was disappointing.
“Now, we read him quoting the media in the Philippines saying he won’t fight Jeff Horn in Australia and he is negotiating to have it in the Philippines as it would be good for tourism.
“Anyone who knows anything about the Philippines knows they don’t have a lot of money over there and The Prime Minister is already on record as saying his government wouldn’t throw money into boxing while he had countrymen living on the streets.
“The Tourism Minister said they could get local sponsors, but they won’t be able to raise anywhere near the sort of money needed to stage it over there, so hopefully Manny comes to his senses and travels to Australia again next year. In a perfect world, that is what we would like to see happen.”
On rumors WBO number three contender Bradley Skeete was being lined up as an opponent for Horn, potentially at the back end of November, Duncan added: “Skeete is one of three opponents we are looking closely at, but I am not the promoter so I’m not at liberty to identify who the other two are.
“Stylistically, Skeete wouldn’t be the ideal opponent for Jeff, but we are still looking at options and have a meeting lined up to discuss what will happen next.
“The thing is, Jeff wanted Pacquiao badly as he wants to prove it wasn’t luck that got him across the line the first time, but hopefully it will happen next year.
“If it’s not to be (next year), then we’ll cross that hurdle and reconsider options,” he said.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay