Horn was supposed to be the next victim for Pacquiao and the start of a farewell retirement tour for the Filipino icon. Horn however fought like a man possessed and showed real energy, determination and confidence from the off, letting his hands go and forcing Pacquiao backwards immediately. The assault and energy from Horn really seemed to shock Pacquaio who struggled to much of note during the first 3 rounds. Though what the Filipino did land was damaging and left Horn with a nasty cut around the right eye.
Horn looked to try and keep the high energy work going in round 4, but seemed to slow a little giving Pacquiao some openings, with Pacquiao landing an eye catching right hook and a solid body shot. The Filipino seemed to begin finding some sort of a rhythm, but Horn was continuing to have his successes as well.
Although Pacquiao had successes in round 4 he didn't seem able to keep it up in round 5 as Horn bullied him and landed some solid shots. Again Pacquiao had his moments, and there was some argument for him winning the round but he failed to make it decisive as he really needed to given the amount of leather Horn was throwing.
Going in to round 6 Horn's eye was getting worse however he wasn't the only one ending the round bloodied as an accidental clash of heads left Pacquaio with a bad cut on the hairline, with blood instantly running down the side of his face. Following the headclash the rest of round 6 was messy, with little clean work of note until late when Horn landed several good right hands and actually seemed to wobble Pacquiao.
With blood running down his face Pacquiao came out for round 7 with bad intentions but struggled to have any major consistency against the Australian, who landed some solid right hands before another clash of heads left Pacquaio with a second hairline cut, this time on the other side of his head. A bloodied Pacquiao seemed like a wounded animal and Horn went hunting his prey, but was caught by a very eye catching uppercut in the final moments of the round.
Pacquiao managed to have a real charge in round 8 as Horn began to slow, and tire. There was a large chant for the local but a huge body shot by Pacquiao and a few eye catching punches late in the round were more than Horn could manae, with the local doing landing little more than asingle notable right hand. Pacquiao built on his success in round 9, a round that saw him batter Horn around the ring in the bouts most 1-sided round, that saw him do everything but drop the Australian. Horn seemed to be running on empty and it looked like a stoppage was on the cards for the Filipino.
Before round 10 the referee went over to Horn, who was sat on the stool following the terrible round 9, and said he needed to see something from the Australian or he was going to stop the bout. The words from the referee seemed to reignite the fire in Horn who struggled early in the round but began to put on a real fight back late in the round as a tired Pacquiao looked like a man who had worn himself out with the big effort in the previous round. It wasn't a clear round for Horn, but it was more than enough to convince the referee that he was fine, and that he wasn't as spent as he had looked in round 9.
The rejuvenating powers of Horn were proven again in round 11 as he seemed to take the fight to Pacquiao again and despite taking some solid shots from the Filipino he was the man pressing the action and forcing the fight. It was clear that Pacquiao was landing the better blows, but Horn seemed to out work him, even if the shots weren't as eye catching as those form the Filipino.
The final round saw Horn again on the front foot, and dragging Pacquiao into a fire fight with the round finishing in a brilliant and eye catching back and forth brawl that seemed to show Pacquiao hurt again. It was a great finish to what had been a unexpectedly great fight, and a great effort from both men.
With the bout going the distance the cards were read out, with scores of 117-111 and 115-113, twice, all of which favoured Horn giving him a career defining victory.
With the win Horn becomes the new champion and potentially lines up some major pay days, such as a rematch with Pacquiao or a bout with Terrence Crawford. For Pacquiao, who never looked even a shadow of his former self, the bout could be the end, and at 38 it may be the perfect time to bow out of the sport. He has nothing left to prove, and seemed to come up against a younger, hungrier and more determined fighter. If it had been the Pacquiao of old there is little doubt he'd have battered Horn, like he did to Miguel Cotto, but this wasn't the Pacquiao of 7 or 8 years ago. Instead it's the Pacquiao of 2017.
Although the decision has been decried by some as controversial, with Dan Rafael and Teddy Atlas both scoring the bout comfortably in favour of Pacquiao,it does seem like father time really has caught up with Pacquiao and that size played a major factor here. Horn seemed, at times, to be too big and too strong, and too hungry for the old, small and battle worn Pacquiao.