Australian Jeff Horn (L) pulled off a stunning Rocky-like upset in the "Battle of Brisbane" with a unanimous decision over Manny Pacquiao (R) to claim the WBO welterweight title. Photo courtesy of Sporf/Twitter
Australian Jeff Horn pulled off a stunning Rocky-like upset in the "Battle of Brisbane" with a unanimous decision over Manny Pacquiao to claim the WBO welterweight title on Sunday at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia.
In a 12-round fight that was much tougher than expected, the local upstart Horn more than held his own against the 38-year-old Pacquiao, who has won titles in eight different weight classes during his 22-year boxing career.
"I've just believed since I was very young that I could do this," the 29-year-old Horn said. "This is not the best moment of my life -- it is yet to come with my beautiful wife Joanna. She's pregnant with our first child."
All three judges gave the fight to Horn. Judge Waleska Roldan had it 117-111, and judges Chris Flores and Ramon Cerdan both scored it 115-113 for Horn in a controversial decision that left many experts wondering how much the fight being in Horn's home country figured into the outcome.
According to CompuBox, Pacquiao landed 182 punches to Horn's 92. Horn threw more punches but landed just 15 percent of them compared with 32 percent for his opponent, In the end, though it wasn't enough for Pacquiao to win the bloody battle.
Both fighters were bleeding profusely in the late rounds -- Horn from a cut near his eye and Pacquiao from a wound on his head that was opened in the middle of the bout when the two knocked heads.
After the fight, Pacquiao didn't argue his case or complain that he was robbed. The longtime champion was gracious in defeat.
"That's the decision of the judges. I respect that," said Pacquiao, who won the welterweight title in November with a decision over Jessie Vargas.
The fight was nearly stopped after the ninth round with Horn bleeding heavily from an eye, but his corner pleaded that their fighter be allowed to continue and Horn came out punching in the 10th before a roaring crowd of 51,000 and a worldwide television audience watching on ESPN.
"I felt buzzed for sure, but I'm the Hornet -- I've got to come back," Horn said. "I'm not a quitter. Australians aren't quitters to start with. We've showed we're winners. Absolutely unbelievable. So pumped."
Pacquiao said, "At the ninth round, I thought I was going to win the fight I didn't expect his toughness."
Neither did Pacquiao's handlers. Longtime trainer Freddy Roach predicted before the bout that it would be short.
Not so. Horn, a former schoolteacher,proved to be a gamer while boosting his record to 17-0-1 with 12 knockouts. Pacquiao, who is a senator in the Philippines, fell to 59-7-2 with 38 knockouts, but he hasn't won by a KO in eight years.
Pacquiao was expected to make $10 million while Horn's take was to be $500,000.
Was it Pacquiao's last fight? Some have suggested that he might retire, but a rematch appears likely.
"Absolutely, yes," Pacquiao said of fighting Horn again. "We have a rematch clause, so no problem."
On the undercard, Michael Conlan stopped local fighter Jarrett Owen with a technical knockout that was stopped at 1:56 of the third round. The former Irish Olympian is 3-0 in his professional career as a featherweight. Owen fell to 5-5-3.
Also Jerwin Ancajas defeated Teiru Kinoshita in a seventh-round TKO, Michael Conlan beat Jarrett Owen in a third-round TKO and David Toussaint won a split decision over Shane Mosley Jr.