After a very successful 2016, the chance to avenge victory and silence skeptics will offer the Filipino icon a vengeful foray back into the KO column. Look for Manny Pacquiao to turn in a performance reminiscent of his humiliation of Oscar De La Hoya, stopping a game Jeff Horn via 10th round TKO.
Freddie Roach isn’t exactly the sugar coating type. “He better, I need to see it,” Roach responded, when I asked if WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38KOs) will KO Jeff Horn (16-0-1, 11KOs) about a month ago at his Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles.
Boxing’s modern version of his own mentor, the great Eddie Futch, still had yet to see what version of Pacquiao awaited him in the Philippines ahead of his clash with the uber-aggressive and popular Australian. Whether he liked what he saw or not, Roach had already decided to go 100% asshole on Pacquiao for this camp.
“He looked like shit. This is honestly the worst I’ve ever seen Manny spar in all the time I’ve had with him,” Roach told Filipino scribblers and would-be paparazzi a few weeks ago. According to those close to this camp, the psychological effect an irascible Roach has had on Pacquiao will make him an unleashed, 38 year-old sociopath when the bell rings at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia (ESPN, Sat. July 1, 9:00 p.m. ET).
There’s two ways to look at this, the first of which wouldn’t appear to be good on the surface for Pacquiao; given he’s being used to launch a potential partnership between Top Rank and ESPN, while fighting on a free cable network just two years removed from PPV magic with Floyd Mayweather. But the flip side is, if he’s explosive against Horn this weekend (keep in mind, a very Conor McGregor-like and popular Irishman Michael Conlon is on the card) it sells boxing in a major way to a whole new audience spanning generations around the world.
“We’re looking forward to an audience as large as 10 million people in the United States, maybe larger,” said Top Rank CEO, Bob Arum. ‘If Jeff Horn, win or lose, performs as well as I think he will, he will end up being a major star. He’s a big strong kid, takes a good punch, gives punches really well… Manny has been one of our greatest fighters of the era. He’s very fast, he knows how to move. But remember, he’s getting older.”
Even Michael Buffer, legendary ring announcer who’ll be performing the honors this weekend, was on some “Let’s get ready to crumble” shit when it comes to Pacquiao, suggesting Horn (a nearly 4-1 underdog, who isn’t really considered a live one) may be in the right place at the right time.
PACQUIAO V HORN
The former school teacher is about to be taught a major lesson by the pupil of Freddie Roach. Horn’s chin and entire frame will be like the biggest lantern in a storm for “Pac-Man”. Pacquiao had fun with assorted Aussie press on hand the other day, using his t-shirt to mock the style of a matador dealing with a bull while wearing a knowing smile.
Horn, a very tough competitor, is not nearly as good as Jessie Vargas (who Pac school’d last November) and dimensions away from Timothy Bradley (who Pac bobblehead dolled last April). This fight has already sold over 45,000 tickets as of now, so a capacity stadium close to Horn’s hometown will watch him fight very bravely and lose very badly. Stylistically, this is the epitome of the perfect fight for Pacquiao, for in Jeff Horn, we’re probably talking about a bootleg version of a very inspired Brandon Rios. For fans of Pacquiao, set your DVR’s and throw a breathtaking nostalgia party, for this will be the best version of Pacquiao you’ve seen since November 2009 (when he turned in what I believe was his greatest performance against Miguel Cotto– his last KO). Just don’t be fooled that the opponent had nothing to do with it.