At the beginning of the year, MannyPacquiao waspoised to face Jeff Horn in April.Pacquiaoand his advisor MichaelKonczhad a different idea than promoterBob Arum, whoset out for a bout againstAmir Khan in the United Arab Emirates. A deal had reportedly been struck, but the fightdidn't come to fruition.
Now, Pacquiao returns to theoriginal plan, as he is set to face the unheralded Horn on July 1 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia(July 2 in Australia) for the WBOwelterweight championship.
Looking at the fight, it doesn't make too much sense for Pacquiao.
As the only eight-division world champion in the sport's history, Pacquiao is arguably boxing's biggest name. As such, he's faced some of the biggest names in the ring: Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto, Oscar de la Hoya, Juan Manuel Marquez, Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales, to name a few.
The only notable fighter Horn has faced is former WBOlight welterweight champion Randall Bailey — he was15 years past his prime when they met in April 2016.
Horn shouldn't excite any boxing fans as the next opponent for Pacquiao. Fans felt either Khan, Adrien Broner, Terence Crawford or Vasyl Lomachenko would have been the proper choice. After Pacquiao dispatched Jesse Vargas in November to claim the WBO crown, Arum said a fight with either Top Rank stablemates Crawford or Lomachenko could happen in 2017.
Just before he easily dispatched Jason Sosa on Saturday. Lomachenko told Sporting News that wouldn't be an option, as he didn't want to be defeat an "old" Pacquiao .Broner, Crawford, Khan or Lomachenko are bigger opponents for Pacquiao and those are the fighters he should be facing at this stage of his career.
This fight is about nothing more than filling 55,000 seats.Horn is nothing more than a glorified sparring match for Pacquiao, and Koncz told Sporting News as much.
“This Jeff Horn is something else,” Koncz said. “It’s as if he is having flashbacks to the days of teaching school and [is] giving a lecture to his fourth grade students or something, but someday, he will come to the realization that on July 2 it’s a different world. It’s a different arena and it’s the world of professional boxing, where respect is earned through years of dedication to the sport. He will be the fourth-grade student getting schooled and wishing he was back in a classroom instead of the ring with a true legend, with ring generalship beyond his comprehension.
“Jeff Horn, rest assured that Manny Pacquiao is not taking you or this fight lightly and will be prepared like never before. He has pledged toprove a point to all his fans in Australia and the world. Basic Math 101. Horn saysyou never fear the ones that make noise and talk up a storm. You must be concerned with the ones that are silent as they are the dangerous ones.”
It is unknown if HBO, Pacquiao's American television partner,will pick up the fight. Given thenetwork didn't pick up the Las Vegas-based Vargas fight, it seems doubtful, but maybe the lure of a packed stadium will be enough for airtime.
Too bad the lure of a packed stadium didn't prompt Arum or Pacquiao to secure a better opponent that boxing fans deserve.
Steven Muehlhausen is an MMA and boxing writer and contributor for Sporting News. You can find his podcast, "The Fight Club Chicago," and subscribe on iTunes . You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and can find him on Twitter @SMuehlhausenMMA .