Jeff Horn: Pacquiao’s Next Opponent
By: Sean Crose
Sixteen wins. One draw. No Loses. Eleven of those wins by knockout. On paper, at least, Australian welterweight Jeff Horn looks to be a decent enough fighter. On July second, however, the little known WBO challenger will be facing the great Manny Pacquiao – on basic cable, no less – in front of around fifty thousand people (if not more) in his homeland for Pacquiao’s title. Does he stand a chance? Does he even belong in the same ring as the fighter known as PacMan? Well, Horn is more deserving of his big boxing opportunity than Conor McGregor is – but that’s really not saying much. So what’s the deal with this little known fighter whose about to step onto the big stage in a very big way?
Well, for one thing, he’s never fought outside of his homeland, unless you count some scraps in New Zealand. That means he’s far from the global player that his opponent is. What’s more, a full 25% of his wins have come against men who entered the ring having lost more professional fights than they had won. Taking things a step further, Horn has never faced a true name opponent. Some Pacquiao opponents, like Chris Algieri, were knocked for having less than impressive resumes, but Algieri had at least bested the then feared Ruslan Provodnikov (albeit controversially) before facing the Filipino legend in a high level bout.
On the other hand, Horn is a strong, straight puncher with an aggressive, come forward style. He can employ his jab as a measuring stick and most certainly knows how to finish an opponent of. He’s a tough guy, make no mistake about it. He can also be a lot of fun to watch. Those of us who can remember those exciting, though perhaps not great, fighters who regularly appeared on network sports programs in the 70s-90s can both recall and appreciate the kind of fighter Horn seems to be. Then again, no one has seen Horn rise to the occasion the way he will have to against Pacquiao. Some fighters can simply find a way to truly grasp the moment, sure (Buster Douglas being the most obvious example), but is Horn among that small number?
There are, however, some indicators to at least suggest Horn’s Olympian climb may be easier than thought, prime among them, Pacquiao’s age and outside the ring interests. Most all would agree that Pacquiao is past his prime. At 38, his best days may well be behind him. What’s more, Pacquiao’s job as a Filipino politician must take a whole lot of time and energy out of the man. Will these things come into play when he faces Horn? They may very well. Having said that, it’s hard to see Horn scoring the upset win on the 2nd. Manny is simply too fast, and Horn just doesn’t appear to have the skill set.