We got a surprisingly competitive fight Saturday evening on ESPN when Manny Pacquiao faced underdog Jeff Horn, but we surely shouldn’t have gotten the result we did: The Australian amateur talent upset the all-time great as Horn took a unanimous decision from Pacquiao in their welterweight bout.
To be clear, this welterweight showdown was not clear cut. But almost no one outside of the judges in Australia scored it for Horn, let alone one of them scoring it 117-111. The other two judges scored it a more reasonable 115-113, but that’s also a mild stretch.
Pacquiao had only one round where he looked like the vintage hero of old, the 9th, when he battered Horn so badly the referee came over after to threaten to stop the bout.
Otherwise, both men missed a lot. It was sloppy and ugly despite the willingness of the combatants, but the only thing that landed truly consistently were head butts, leading to two cuts atop Pac’s head and a swollen right eye for Horn that made him look vaguely mutant.
This scribe scored seven rounds for Pacquiao, the 9th a 10-8 round. You can make arguments, I suppose, that Horn deserved some of the borderline rounds. He was pretty fundamental in there, and Pacquiao looked, if not shot, certainly more like a washed up fighter at 38 years old. He wasn’t particularly fast, he wasn’t particularly powerful and he wasn’t accurate, that’s for sure.
Horn might be a talent who could make waves in the division. He might’ve been that even before he was thrown in prematurely against Pac. He showed he had enough to hang with at least a faded great, so that’s something.
But Pacquiao’s decline is precipitous, even if he didn’t deserve this loss. There’s talk of a rematch, although it’s hard to see it going differently, and Horn’s call-out of Mayweather was laughable.
It’s kinda good this first encounter was on ESPN, in the sense that a big name was fighting on basic cable. But the drop in Pacquiao’s stardom that made it so he wasn’t on pay-per-view aligns with the drop in his ability that made it so he was even in a position to lose to an unproven boxer. That, as they say, is how the cookie crumbles.
(BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – Jeff Horn of Australia punches Manny Pacquiao during their welterweight fight at Suncorp Stadium on July 2; Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images)