When Manny Pacquiao faced Jessie Vargas last November, the majority of the boxing public greeted the fight with apathy. HBO passed on broadcasting the bout. The boxing media in general paid slight attention.
It’s not that Vargas is a bum. His WBO welterweight belt was a paper title, but Vargas himself certainly deserved top-10 ranking at 147 pounds. He was a legitimate contender.
But Pacquiao, by contrast, has been one of the elite fighters of his generation. No knowledgeable fan looked at a matchup between Pacquiao and Vargas and expected it to be a remotely competitive bout. And it wasn’t. Pacquiao cruised to an easy decision, just as virtually everybody expected him to.
If reports emerging this week are true, though, then Pacquiao vs. Vargas will seem like a superfight compared to what Top Rank is looking at for Pacquiao’s next bout. As quoted in The Manila Times, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum called undefeated Australian Jeff Horn as “a good possibility” for Pacquiao’s next bout.
Don’t be embarrassed if you are asking yourself right now “Who the hell is Jeff Horn?” To borrow from the great Bert Sugar, Horn “isn’t even a household name in his own household.”
He represented Australia in the 2012 Olympics. The best win on his record came last April, when he stopped Randall “The Knock-Out King” Bailey in his corner, following Round 7. About 10 or 15 years ago, that would have been a pretty nice line on his resume. But Bailey is 42 now, and has not defeated a contender since 2012, when he caught up to Mike Jones in Round 10 and finished him in Round 11, after having lost the first nine rounds.
The WBO has Horn ranked No. 2 at welterweight. But that just proves that the WBO’s ratings are a joke. Horn is a nice looking prospect. Maybe he will be a deserving world title challenger, someday.
Meanwhile, the only way he should enter the ring with Pacquiao is as a sparring partner.