By Tom Donelson (BWAA)
Author, Member Boxing Writers Association of America
Manny Pacquiao faced Jeff Horn in Brisbane Australia and his goal was to look impressive to get a big pay day, with the goal to entice Mayweather for a big money rematch. For Jeff Horn, this was his opportunity to become a known entity in the Welterweight and even win a title in front of his fellow countrymen. Horn came into this fight as a significant underdog. Horn hoped that age would benefit him as he was the younger fighter by nine years.
Horn came out the first round as he forced Pacquiao on the rope a couple of times and while Pacquiao countered; Horn legs served him well as he moved out of harms’ way.
In the second round, Horn continued to move and his awkward motion gave Pacquiao trouble but the Pac Man landed three big lefts. Horn finished the round with a flurry but Pacquiao landed the bigger shots in the second round.
Pacquiao started to take command in the third round with more accurate punches as Horn threw a lot of punches but many of Horn punches missed its target. The fourth round saw a similar pace as third round as Pacquiao threw the more accurate punches as Horn threw more punches but just as third round, Horn punches missed Pacquiao. Horn’s right eye started to bleed due to Pac Man’s straight left.
The fifth round proved to be action packed and while Pacquiao landed the more accurate punches, Horn landed some nice right hands and while I had Pacquiao winning the round, this was a close round that the judges could easily see different.
In the sixth round, a clash of heads produced a cut along the hairline from Pacquiao and for the first time, Pacquiao slowed down after seeing his own blood. Horn nailed Pacquiao with a solid right that staggered Pacquiao. As the round ended, Pacquiao looked concern as for the first time, the possibility he could lose the fight.
I had the fight Pacquiao 58-56 halfway through the fight and ESPN Ted Atlas had Pacquiao in front 59-55.
Throughout the seventh round, Pacquiao tied Horn up when Horn got inside but a second head clash opened up second cut above Pacquiao right eye. The last thirty second saw Horn landing two big rights and Manny Pacquiao counters missed.
During the eighth round, Pacquiao tried to set traps to catch Horn as he comes in but Horn landed right hands as Pacquiao started to look his age as those Horn right hands started to land more consistently. Ted Atlas noted that Pacquiao missed many of his counters that years earlier would have hit their target. After eight rounds I had it (76-76) while Atlas had 77-75 in favor of Pacquiao.
Pacquaio landed big shots throughout the ninth round as Horn appear to wilt. Blood started to pour out of Horn’s right eye. Pacquiao best round up to this point as he simply pounded Horn. The referee threaten to stop the fight but Horn’s corner begged for one more round. Ted Atlas gave Pacquiao a 10-8 round due to his domination. (I will state that when scoring a fight, I only give 10-8 rounds in the event of a knock down. Boxing is a subjective enough of a sport to score and for me to score a 10-8 round, I want to see a fighter hit the canvas.)
Pacquiao slowed down in the tenth but his punches were more accurate as Horn fought hard and landed some rights of his own. Horn was the aggressor but Pacquiao countered more accurate and when Horn came in close, Pacquiao tied him up. I had Pacquiao up by a 106-103 score and Ted Atlas had it 106-102 going into the final round.
Horn came out in the last round with an attempt to win the bout but while he landed the better punches, it was a case of too little, too late or so I thought. While Horn threw more punches, Pacquiao landed nearly double the punches. 115-113 was my final score in favor of Pacquiao and Ted Atlas had it 116-111. The judges had it 115-113, 115-113 and 117-111 for Horn in an upset. This was hometown scoring as Horn won a fight he should have lost but then Pacquiao showed himself to be an 38 year old and only in the ninth round did Pac Man look like the Pac Man of old as he nearly stopped Horn. This allowed Horn to finish the fight which allowed him to get the decision. Pac Man of four or five years ago would have stopped Horn but that Pac Man was not fighting but the 38 year old Pacquiao was in the ring and he allowed a fighter who he would have beaten easily years ago to have a chance to win.
One final point is why was this on ESPN to begin with as oppose to PPV. While many on ESPN were talking about a new era in boxing and with less fights on PPV and more fights on television. The reality is that Pacquiao would not have attracted enough interest for this fight to have viewers pay 50 dollars to watch. The days of the PAC Man being a big PPV draw is over and ESPN were willing to put up enough money for Pacquiao get his 10 million dollar pay off.
Yes, I will agree that this was a bad decision but it was not highway robbery where many rounds were close and as boxing writer Tim Dahlberg observed, “Forget about the punch counts, which showed Pacquiao landing twice the number of punches that Horn did. Those punches are counted by humans and with the awkward style of both fighters, it was difficult without the benefit of slow-motion replays to see just who landed what as the two flurried furiously at times in the ring.
In my opinion, Pacquiao was the better fighter but the judges saw it differently rewarding Horn aggressive nature and if nothing else, ESPN can now have their rematch between Horn and Pacquiao.