Suncorp Stadium, in sunny Brisbane, Australia, more famous for its rugby and aussie football events than boxing, will nevertheless host a very intriguing clash this Saturday night when boxing superstar and fan favorite Manny Pacquiao takes on local hero and undefeated WBO number one contender, Jeff “The Hornet” Horn in what should be a very action-packed fight straight from the opening bell.
Pacquiao is installed as the prohibitive -600 favorite in this fight with Horn coming in as the +500 underdog.
Pacquiao’s recent performances in the lead up to this fight have been very impressive. Last November he outpointed a game, but thoroughly outmatched former WBO champion in Jessie Vargas, a fight in which he sent the younger champion to the canvas early in the fight with a nicely timed, crisp overhand left. Vargas struggled on, but never really got back into the fight from that point on.
Pacquiao put on an even more convincing display in his previous fight before this, being pitted against former champion Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley. A rubber match between the two – each fighter having one win against the other one – was arranged and was seen pre-fight, by the bookmakers at least, as potentially being very close, as odds were razor thin and many boxing analysts weren’t sure which way the action was going to go. Pacquiao had no such doubts however, and put on a brilliant display, settling the trilogy in emphatic fashion by putting Bradley down twice in a fight he thoroughly dominated, winning the fight handily 116-110 on all three judges scorecards.
Both of these wins show why Pacquiao is still considered one of the top contenders at welterweight.
Jeff Horn, on the other hand, may not be the household name Manny Pacquiao is but he has nonetheless built up a huge fanbase in his native Australia and beyond in his rise through the world rankings. Despite never having fought outside of Australia or New Zealand, big names are willing to go to his backyard as, just like the UK fighters, Horn has the fanbase and media attention to create a thrilling atmosphere for any visiting fighter willing to make the journey overseas. Between him and New Zealand heavyweight champion Joseph Parker, they’ve put Australasia firmly on the map as a premier global destination for boxing.
Two of Horn’s most recent performances against Randall Bailey and Ali Funeka did little to prove Horn is on Pacquiao’s level just yet however. Both Bailey and Funeka put Horn down early in their respective fights but in both instances the tough Australian was able to weather the storm and come back to deliver hard stoppages of his own. While a lot of heart, determination and not least, power, was on show in these fights, Horn’s defence will need a major upgrade heading into this fight against Pacquiao if he is to be competitive.
This offensively minded “take one to deliver one” approach may prove to be Horn’s downfall against a superior operator like Pacquiao. Both fighters like to come forward and this should lead to a very entertaining fight while it lasts on Saturday night. Something will have to give however and it is hard to see how the defensively absent Horn will be able to withstand the blistering hand speed and combinations of Manny Pacquiao for extended periods in this fight. While there is no question of Horn’s toughness as a fighter, he has simply never fought at this level before and should provide relatively little that “Pacman” has not already come up against or dealt with previously.
With Horn a come-forward, pressure type of fighter and Pacquiao an explosive counter-puncher, especially if fighters are willing to walk onto his shots of their own volition (as in his fight against Ricky Hatton a number of years ago) it is hard to imagine this fight going the distance. If Horn continually comes forward with his high pressure style as he is used to, then it is very likely he will walk onto multiple big shots from Pacquiao and that should be enough to stop the game Australian. While Pacquiao has failed to secure a knockout since 2009, this is a fight in which I believe he breaks the streak, as Horn will simply not allow him any other option but to finish him due to his continually coming forward and looking to trade.
“The Battle of Brisbane” should deliver exactly what it proposes on Saturday night as both of these fighters should deliver an explosive event for the fans with their combined offensive styles, but expect to see Pacquiao get his first KO in eight years as he thoroughly dismantles his younger opponent.
Pick: Pacquiao via KO/TKO