Inexperienced, lightly regarded Jeff Horn recorded what is likely to be boxing’s Upset of the Year last Saturday in Brisbane, Australia, upending the legendary Manny Pacquiao via unanimous decision.
The verdict was not without controversy. Pacquiao landed almost twice as many total punches–182 vs. 92. His percentage landed was nearly 20 points higher–32 to 15. But give Horn credit for forcing an awkward, physical fight, keeping the crowd loud and engaged and making accurate scoring difficult for the ringside judges.
One thing is for sure, this fight is more interesting in the rearview mirror than it was heading into it last week.
Point 1: Manny Pacquiao is Clearly a Diminished Fighter
Give Horn credit for imposing his own fight. But it is not as if he turned in a great performance. He landed just 92 punches over the entire bout. Even two years ago, Manny Pacquiao would have had the handspeed and footwork to batter such a sloppy opponent.
Consider the starching Pacquiao put on Antonio Margarito in 2010. Walking into the ring that night, Pacquiao was giving up 20 pounds to Margarito. Margarito was one of the great volume punchers of the era. Pacquiao brutalized him. Margarito finished the fight standing, but with a permanently severely damaged eye which was arguably never the same again.
Point 2: We Still Need to See Where Horn Stacks Up Against the Division’s Elite
I was severely critical of the WBO last week for ranking Jeff Horn No. 1 in the world in back of Manny Pacquiao. Despite Horn’s controversial win, I am not backing off on that criticism. Horn had no business ranking inside of the top 20 at welterweight prior to this weekend.
Beating Pacquiao, even in controversial fashion, establishes Horn as a true, top-10 contender, though. And now that he has one of the alphabet soup title holders, lets see what he can do against the other belt holders.
Based on how sloppy he was against Pacquiao, I don’t like his chances against either Keith Thurman (WBC and WBA) or Errol Spence Jr. (IBF). But he has earned his way into those conversations.