THE biggest fight in Australian boxing history will take place on Sunday afternoon at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
Unlikely world title challenger and undefeated underdog Jeff Horn (16-0-1, 11 KOs) challenges future Hall of Famer and eight division titleholder Manny Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) for his recently acquired WBO welterweight title.
We spoke to our panel of industry insiders to get their thoughts on the highly anticipated clash.
Ben Damon, MAIN EVENT – Record: 16-11
Pacquiao W12 Horn: I have little doubt the best version of Jeff Horn will turn up at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The question is which Manny Pacquiao will join him?
Reports have ranged from apparent disinterest in the Pacquiao camp to sparring partners dropping like flies, and intriguingly the 38-year-old has been sparring a selection of lightweights while Horn looks bigger and more powerful than ever.
The scene is set for the emergence of Horn as an Australian sporting superstar and I see his awkward pressuring style and renewed power taking him the distance against the legendary Pacquiao. For the sake of Australian boxing let’s hope he gets it on the cards. As for a tip, Pacquiao by decision.
Adam Wilcock, Promoter/Manager – Record: 18-10
Pacquiao KO Horn: I’d love to see Jeff win, but Manny is a true A-list boxer, top ten pound-for-pound and a pay-per-view star. There were initial stories sparing partners the ilk of Lomachenko being brought in, which never materialised.
Having never seen hand speed close to that of Manny in sparing or his professional ranks, for me that’ll be telling. Like everyone else I’ll be hoping for a Horn knockout blow, but I just don’t see it happening.
Dan Attias, Columnist – Record: 4-0
Pacquiao TKO10 Horn: Jeff Horn has landed the opportunity of a lifetime with this fight but has he bitten off more than he can chew? I say he has. Jeff is a quality fighter but his resume lacks a name that comes anywhere close to that of Pacquiao.
I predict Horn will put up a good fight in the early rounds before the greatness that is Manny takes over. Pacquiao by stoppage late.
Chris McCullen, Trainer – Record: 4-4
Pacquiao W12 Horn: I don’t think it’s going to be as easy for Manny as people think. Styles make fights and Jeff has a difficult style to handle, Jeff is the younger, bigger and possibly stronger so I give him a chance. But it’s hard to beat experience, so I’m going to have to go with Manny to win on points. Once again I hope I’m wrong though and hoping ‘The Hornet’ gets up.
Neil Devey, Journalist – Record: 6-3
Pacquiao W12 Horn: It’s a great coup for Australian boxing to bring a true great like Manny Pacquiao down under, and it’s great that a good guy like Jeff Horn gets to share the ring. But this fight is all about what Pacquiao still has in the tank.
If he’s eighty percent of the fighter who dominated Bradley and Vargas, then I can see only one outcome. Horn isn’t going to be overawed – I just feel that everything he does well – the Filipino superstar does better.
Luke Jackson, Featherweight – Record: 1-1
Pacquiao TKO8 Horn: I was Jeff’s captain for many years on the national team and we are good friends. We have traveled the world together training and fighting. He was my room mate at the Olympics and I’ve seen first hand the dedication he has put into his boxing.
I think it’s great for him and Australian boxing to be fighting a legend in Jeff’s hometown. Jeff is young, hungry and dangerous but Manny Pacquiao is an eleven-time world champion and that doesn’t happen by accident. His record and experience speaks for itself.
I see an exciting fight while it lasts with both trading shots early, but I believe Pacquiao will end up showing his supreme experience and skill. I have Pacquiao winning in eight rounds, but I really hope I’m wrong.
Billy Dib, former IBF featherweight champion – Record: 5-7
Pacquiao TKO6 Horn: What a great match up for Australian boxing this is, Jeff Horn is a young man full of ambition and hunger. Manny Pacquiao is a seasoned veteran and a true great of this sport. It’s hard to pick against Pacquiao, although from the bottom of my heart I’d love to see Horn do this for himself and Australia.
My gut tells me Manny will win this by knockout in the mid-rounds, I feel his wealth of experience will be too much for Horn. I hope I’m wrong, as it would be so great to see Horn pull this off and cause an upset for the ages.
Cody Kaye, Journalist for Fox Sports – Record: 7-2
Pacquiao W12 Horn: No two ways about it, this is as tough as it gets for Jeff Horn. On his side are youth, reach, height and weight. But when it comes to experience, he’s going to have learn on the job against Manny, and he’s going to have to learn quick.
Manny has had more world title fights than Jeff has had fights, and his resume speaks for itself. Can Jeff cause the biggest upset in Australian boxing history? If he can catch Manny coming in and land one of those big right hands, then yes he can. Do I think it’ll happen? No, but on this one, I’m more than happy to be proved wrong.
Matt Clark, Manager/Advisor – Record: 16-2
Pacquiao W12 Horn: Let me preface this by saying I’m hoping I couldn’t be more wrong. I bought my ticket to go and support Jeff the day they went on sale. I like the advice from his trainer Glenn Rushton who has told him to switch off from social media and at the end of the day all the predictions, including mine, mean nothing.
I’ve seen similar when Team (Lucas) Browne travelled to Chechnya to defy the odds against Ruslan Chagaev. Nobody but a select few gave him a prayer. I think Manny will have a bit too much lateral movement, hand and foot speed and angles for Jeff and I think he wins a competitive fight by decision.
Jeff will have some moments in the middle rounds but I can’t go past Pacquiao if I’m giving my honest opinion. Jeff will need to press the action and cut off the ring. Not give Manny a moments rest. Sunday will rank up alongside Burns vs. Johnson and the Nelson vs. Fenech rematch in terms of the great boxing fights held in this country. War Horn!
Pat Kennedy, Matchmaker – Record: 4-3
Pacquiao KO Horn: I love everything about Jeff Horn and I hope he pulls this off on Sunday, but my head says Pacquiao by knockout.
Brendan Bourke, Manager/Advisor – Record: 18-5
Pacquiao UD12 Horn: Firstly, great work from Duco Events for getting the deal done to get Manny Pacquiao to fight in Australia in front of 50,000 people. Secondly, credit to Jeff and team for stepping up and taking on one of the World’s best fighters.
I think Jeff will put on a great show and his stock will rise, heart says Horn but head says Pacquiao. Manny will be too fast, his footwork, speed and angles are elite level so I see him picking up the win.
Sam Labruna, Trainer – Record: 14-6
Pacquiao TKO4 Horn: I’m very excited for this event in Australia with one of our own going up against a legend in Manny Pacquiao, this is huge for boxing in this country. Onto the fight itself, I’m really hoping Jeff Horn can land a bomb because unfortunately that’s the only chance I give him of winning this fight.
My reason for this is because Jeff hasn’t gone through the grades to get there and it’s too much of a step-up in class for him. Fingers crossed for Jeff, but I’m tipping a TKO victory to Pacquiao.
Adam Santarossa, Journalist for News.com.au – Record: 9-2
Pacquiao UD12 Horn: This fight prompts a lot of questions. The biggest, does Horn belong on the elite level that Pacquiao exists? Duco have been stepping Horn up all the time and he has passed every test, but this is his biggest by far.
I just don’t see him having the power to hurt Manny and outboxing Pacquiao for twelve rounds is a huge ask. Horn will have his moments, but will he have enough over twelve rounds to land a decision? Pacquiao is more accustomed to the big stage also, which gives me more doubts in Horn.
I hope I’m wrong and Horn can shock the world, but I think it’s just too big an ask. Pacquiao is ready to be beaten, but is Horn good enough? Only time will tell.
Gareth Williams, Trainer – Record: 14-8
Pacquiao W12 Horn: Jeff Horn and his team are friends of mine from back in the amateurs and this is a tough one to call. I believe Jeff will be bigger and stronger than Manny, but I think Paquiao will nick the fight over twelve rounds.
However, this will be a major step on the global stage for Jeff and will allow his career to go from strength-to-strength, more big fights will be there for him to win a world title. I do hope Jeff lands one on his chin though.
Brett Bonetti, Journalist for 6PR – Record: 8-2
Pacquiao TKO7 Horn: What a massive opportunity for Jeff Horn, this feels similar to when Danny Green fought Roy Jones Jr. Roy came to Australia as a huge favourite and for a quick payday to lead into a fight against Bernard Hopkins.
Is Manny as a big favourite underestimating the Hornet? Pacquiao didn’t even know what Jeff Horn looked like when he accepted this fight, plus Amir Khan was his first choice, Horn was door number two. The heart wants Jeff Horn to win, as they say – he is in with a punchers chance – but at the end of the day Pacquiao is just on another level and will score his first stoppage win since 2009.
Lincoln Hudson, Trainer – Record: 18-7
Pacquiao W12 Horn This is a huge fight for Australia. Jeff Horn has a task ahead of him that’s for sure, this is a fight that I believe is happening at the wrong time. For this reason, I feel Jeff just needs more time to grow and harness his ability to be ready for the big fights that could be ahead.
I would love to be so wrong, but I tip a stoppage by Pacquiao in the mid-rounds. Regardless, I think Jeff Horn is world class.
George Reno, Trainer – Record: 17-5
Pacquiao TKO8 Horn: I hope Horn gets up, but I think Pacquiao has too much experience and is on a different level. He has too much for Horn in everything, such as his work rate and angles. I think he stops Horn on cuts or by the three knockdown rule in eight rounds.
Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images