THE worst kept secret in world boxing has finally been confirmed.
Former schoolteacher and undefeated starlet Jeff Horn has landed a once in a lifetime opportunity to challenge legendary eight division titleholder and reigning WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao on Sunday July 2nd at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
Four months of negotiations between Horn’s New Zealand-based promoter Duco Events and Pacquiao’s long-term representatives at Top Rank have culminated in a fairytale world title tilt for Australia’s best performed Olympian in two decades, who has finally put pen to paper after months of speculation.
“Manny has been a pioneer, bringing world title fights to Cowboys Stadium, The Venetian Macao’s Cotai Arena and now Suncorp Stadium. We’re boxing’s version of Lewis & Clark, discovering new markets,” said Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum in a press release issued by his promotional entity.
“Manny knows who will be the crowd favourite, but he can’t wait to give Australia and the world a great performance. It’s going to be an unbelievable event.”
The unlikely Pacquiao challenge caps off a remarkable twelve month spell for the 29-year-old Horn, who solidified his place as Australia’s premier pugilist with an impressive 2016 campaign. Horn (16-0-1, 11 KOs) scored a stoppage win over former IBF welterweight ruler Randall Bailey before halting former world title challenger Ali Funeka and Rico Mueller.
Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) competed twice last year, dethroning WBO welterweight titleholder Timothy Bradley in April in what was assumed to be his final professional fight. However, the 38-year-old returned in November to recapture his former title with a clear cut decision over the recently crowned Jesse Vargas.
The marquee event, which is widely seen as the biggest fight to ever take place on Australian soil, was secured with the backing of the Queensland Government, who have bankrolled the audacious bid to secure Pacquiao’s signature.
Their delight in securing the Pacquiao coup was confirmed by Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who has thrown her support behind Horn.
“After months of speculation, I am pleased to say we’re finally all in the ring for this fight to go ahead,” said Palaszczuk. “Up to 55,000 boxing fans from across Australia and the world are expected to fill Suncorp Stadium to see the local teacher taking on one of the biggest names in boxing history on his home turf.”
“We look forward to welcoming all those fans to Brisbane to experience all our city and state have to offer. The match is a highlight on the state’s major event calendar and is set to deliver an expected $15.8 million economic boost to the city.”