Earlier this week, what had seemed like a bizarre rumor a couple of months back became a reality. Manny Pacquiao, future Hall of Famer, one of the greatest boxing stars of this or any generation, signed to fight Jeff Horn in July.
If your reaction to seeing the name “Jeff Horn” is to scratch your head as ask “Who?” don’t feel badly. Even hardcore boxing heads were sent scrambling to Boxrec when they first saw the Australian’s name mentioned as a possible Pacquiao opponent.
Horn is 16-0 as a professional, with 11 stoppages. He represented Australia in the Olympics in 2012 and I have read that he is quite popular down under. He has also never fought outside of Australia or New Zealand.
His most recognizable opponent to date is Randall Bailey, who he stopped in April of last year. Bailey is over 40 and hasn’t been any kind of contender for about five years. Beating him is a nice win for a fighter with less than 20 professional bouts.
But it shouldn’t be enough to earn a shot at one of the sport’s biggest stars.
Any unbiased rating of the welterweight division would still have to place Pacquiao at the very top, even at this point in his career. I would struggle to see how Horn could justifiably be placed in the top 20.
The welterweight division needs to establish a legitimate world champion, in the wake of Floyd Mayweather’s retirement. Pacquiao should be a part of those fights. But he seems to have no interest in that.
Pacquiao’s promoters and lazy, uninformed sports writers will continue to hail Pacquiao as an eight division world champion. It’s an absurd claim. But he has been a true world champion at four weight classes–112, 126, 130 and 140 pounds. Very few fighters in history have done this.
If Pacquiao would go after the young lions like Keith Thurman and the winner of Kell Brook vs. Errol Spence, he would have a chance to aim for five.
Instead, he seems more interested in a grand cash-out tour. I can’t exactly fault him. Boxing is a brutal sport and Pacquiao is already a legend. If it is financially worthwhile for him to fight the likes of Jeff Horn, who can blame him for doing it?