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Pacquiao vs Horn: Fight preview and analysis

Manny Pacquiao’s giving up home turf against Jeff Horn, but is there anything else Horn has going for him?

Manny Pacquiao v Jeff Horn Press Conference Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Manny Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao Press Conference Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Record: 59-6-2 (38 KO) ... Streak: W1 ... Last 5: 4-1 ... Last 10: 7-3 ... Stance: Southpaw ... Height/Reach: 5'5½" / 67" ... Age: 38

Thoughts: Manny Pacquiao is a 38-year-old Senator who is also the WBO welterweight champion and may still, in fact, be the best welterweight in the sport.

A bit has been made of Pacquiao being a part-time fighter, and while it’s surely true he doesn’t stay in the gym as much as he did in his prime years, he fought twice in 2016 just like most top names in the sport do, beating Timothy Bradley Jr in an unnecessary third fight in April, a clear decision where he dropped Bradley twice, and Jessie Vargas in November, a clear decision where he dropped Vargas once.

Bradley and Vargas would beat Jeff Horn, more likely than not. They’re proven on a higher level. They are, as far as it’s possible to tell, better fighters than Horn. And Pacquiao was demonstrably better than both of them last year. Not three years, five years, or 10 years ago, but last year. This isn’t ancient history.

So if you’re waiting for Manny Pacquiao to slip to a level where Jeff Horn is a real threat to him, I don’t think we’re there. Even if he’s somewhat distracted and not at his very best, he’s probably still too good for Jeff Horn. He’s simply on another level. Decent conditioning and muscle memory could probably lead Pacquiao to victory here. It’s just not a competitive matchup on paper.

Jeff Horn

Jeff Horn Training Session Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Record: 16-0-1 (11 KO) ... Streak: W13 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'9" / 68" ... Age: 29

Thoughts: Jeff Horn is not a bad fighter. Just overmatched on paper. There are some arguments for him that the hopeful are floating.

“He’s bigger!”

Almost everyone is bigger than Pacquiao at 147. Jessie Vargas was bigger last November. Chris Algieri was bigger. It didn’t help either.

“He’s younger!”

Again, Vargas was younger and fresher. Didn’t help. And Vargas has done more as a pro than Horn. Vargas, on paper, was a tougher matchup. Pacquiao routed him.

“He went to the Olympics!”

Yes, he did. He made it to the quarterfinals at London 2012 before getting blown away by Denys Berinchyk of Ukraine. Horn didn’t roll over — he gave a valiant effort — but Berinchyk was superior. Horn never did shine in big international tournaments, in fact. He fought in the 2011 World Amateur Boxing Championships, too, and lost to Everton Lopes in the second round.

These weren’t bad losses for these competitions. Lopes won the 2011 Worlds. Berinchyk won silver in London. But they were sort of the level cap for Horn as an amateur.

As a professional, “The Hornet’s” most notable wins have come over Randall Bailey, a one-trick pony past his prime, and Ali Funeka. Maybe you’d argue Viktor Plotnikov instead of Funeka or Bailey? The point is, he hasn’t yet been in with a single world fringe contender, let alone a true world class opponent. That doesn’t mean he can’t fight at that level, it means he hasn’t proven it.

Based on what I know about Horn and what you can see of him in the ring on tape, he’s not on Pacquiao’s level. He is, frankly, not really close to Pacquiao’s level.

The good news for Jeff Horn is nobody expects him to win or even be competitive, really. It’s a no-lose situation for him. If he shocks the world and wins the WBO title and knocks off an icon, then obviously that’s a huge win. If he gets sparked or just shut out over 12, what’s the harm? It’s Manny Pacquiao.

Matchup Grade: D. I’m not going to give it an F, because I don’t hate the fight, I just don’t think it’s going to be a matchup anyone thinks about come Monday. Pacquiao is up here, on this level. Jeff Horn is down here, on this one. Jeff Horn could beat Conor McGregor in boxing. He can’t beat Manny Pacquiao. He’s not good enough, and even if he had the potential to be, he doesn’t have the right experience to have prepared him.


  • Jerwin Ancajas vs Teiru Kinoshita: (26-1-1, 17 KO) holds the IBF super flyweight title, while Kinoshita (25-1-1, 8 KO) is a ... fringe contender at this point. His last two wins have come over guys making their debuts, and here are the records of his opponents recently other than those two: 0-9, 9-2-2, 1-10, 0-2. HEY! But he did lose (badly) to Zolani Tete back in 2014. Kinoshita doesn’t deserve a title shot based on his ring results, but here we are anyway.
  • Umar Salamov vs Damien Hooper: Hooper (12-1, 8 KO) was another Australian Olympian in 2012, more hyped than Horn, as he had been a standout youth amateur. Like Horn, he didn’t deliver at the 2011 Worlds or London 2012, but he was a talent. More troublingly, he was knocked out in 21 seconds by a guy named Rob Powdrill as a pro in 2014, stunting his professional development. Most recently, he did beat veteran Nader Hamdan in December. He’s a talented fighter whose dedication has been questioned in the past. Salamov (19-0, 14 KO) is a serious light heavyweight prospect, a 23-year-old from Russia now fighting out of Las Vegas. It’s a big fight for both guys at this stage of their careers, and writing off Hooper’s one loss as a fluky thing (which I think is fair), it’s probably the most evenly matched fight on this card. And I don’t think it’s airing on U.S. TV.
  • Shane Mosley Jr vs David Toussaint: Mosley (10-1, 7 KO) has never really struck me as a standout prospect at 160. He’s got the legacy and the name, but then so do a lot of fighters. He lost a four-round split decision early in his career in 2014, but has bounced back from that, too, which does show dedication and commitment — when the going got tough, he didn’t give up. Toussaint (10-0, 8 KO) is an Aussie prospect I know nothing about.
  • Michael Conlan vs Jarrett Owen: Conlan (2-0, 2 KO) is an obvious pet project at Top Rank, a good prospect, an Irishman from Belfast, charismatic and outspoken. He’s also 25 and fights at 122 so there’s probably only so far he’s going to go as a STAR! outside of the UK, but it’s easy to understand why Top Rank wants to push this guy so hard. He’s fought twice as a pro in March and May, and they made sure to get him on this card as soon as his May fight was done. It’s another showcase. Owen (5-4-3, 2 KO) is another local fighter, a part-time scrapper who presents no challenge on paper.

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