When we talk about modern day boxing legends there are a number of names that will remain immortal. One of those is Filipino sensation Manny Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38) who has really been one of the few true global stars of boxing over the last decade or so. Now, at the age of 38, Pacquiao is clearly coming to the end of his career but he is still a world champion and this coming weekend we'll see him defending his WBO Welterweight title against the little known Jeff Horn (16-0-1, 11), who will be getting the opportunity of a life time. On paper the match is a huge mismatch, matching one of the all time greats against a man who has scarcely shown he's the best in his own country, however it could the birth of a new star and a national hero for Australia, which is rather lacking in terms of boxing stars right now.
When it comes to Pacquiao everything that can be said has already been said. He's a boxing hero of the Philippines who moved through the weights to claim world titles from Flyweight to Light Middleweight and did so whilst defeating a who's who of boxing. Among those he defeated were Chatchai Sasakul, for his first world title back in 1998, Lehlo Ledwaba, in his US debut in 2001, Marco Antonio Barrera, twice, Erik Morales, twice, Juan Manuel Marquez, twice, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito and Timothy Bradley, twice.
At his best Pacquiao was a fearsome monster, destroying all in front of him and stopping fighters like Cotto, Hatton and Morales and Bareer. In later years that explosive destruction eluded him but his boxing had improved to the point where he could out box bigger and younger men like Chris Algieri and Jessie Vargas, and there was still enough spite in his shots to drop good fighters. Not only was he a monster in his prime but he had everything, frightening speed, destructive power, a great engine and the movement to confound and confuse opponents, who were unable to avoid what they simply couldn't see.
Aged 38, and with his 39th birthday coming in December, it's hard to know just how much Pacquiao has left in the tank. He's had 67 professional bouts, with more than 440 rounds and over 20 world title bouts and in recent years he has taken part in more and more out-of-the ring activity with politics and basketball both occupying his time. If he's even half the fighter he once was then he's still one of the best fighters on the planet, but there is certainly some slipping in his ability, and his hunger to finish opponents has seemingly vanished in recent years.
Aged 29 Jeff Horn is a fighter coming into his prime and he's a natural Welterweight who is now carrying the hopes of a nation on his shoulders. Australia may not be a major boxing country but right now they really are lacking with the likes of Sakio Bika, Danny Green and Anthony Mundine all about done with their careers. That hope has been on his shoulders through out his career, following notable success in the amateurs which lead to Horn competing at the 2011 World Amateur Championships and the 2012 Olympics.
As a professional Horn has been fast tracked. In just his 5th bout he faced Samuel Colomban for the Australian title and since then has fought a string of decent fighters, including the likes of Viktor Plotnikov, Ahmed El Mousaoui, Randall Bailey and Ali Funeka. They have been decent opponents, and ones that would help prepare a fighter for a step up to world class, but unfortunately they don't prepare anyone for a fighter like Pacquiao. Even this current version of “Pacman”. Sadly if anything they have exposed chinks in Horn that Pacquiao and his team will look to make the most of.
In the ring Horn is a pretty decent boxer. There's nothing flashy or special about him. He doesn't have the most intense pressure style or the blink and you miss it speed that a top fighter needs, but he has good skills and under-rated power, with his KO over Colomban being a sensational 1-punch KO of a usually durable and tough guy. If he lands clean he can take opponents out, but landing against a world class fighter is much trickier than landing against fighters at domestic level.
Horn does have youth on his side here, but it's hard to imagine him being able to really test Pacquiao here. Instead this bout looks likely to be a real show case of Pacquiao, who should be looking for his first stoppage win since he stopped Miguel Cotto way back in 2009. Horn, who has been down before, simply isn't good enough, or prepared enough for someone like Pacquiao, who will have too much of everything, even at his advanced age, for the Aussie challenger.
Recently we saw Tom Loeffler announce a September 9th card dubbed “Superfly”, a number of the top Super Flyweights, such as Naoya Inoue, Roman Gonalez, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Carlos Cuadras and Juan Francisco Estrada. The card is being sold as featuring 5 of the top Super Flyweights but several other top fighters in the division are missing out on that show, such as IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas (26-1-1, 17). Although Ancajas isn't on the September card he is going to be in action this coming weekend defending his title in a mandatory defense against Japanese challenger Teiru Kinoshita (25-1-1, 8) [位帝里 木下].
For Ancajas the bout will be his second defense, following his upset title win last year against a very lack lustre McJoe Arroyo Kinoshita will be getting his second shot a world title, after having come up short against Zolani Tete around 3 years ago. For both fighters it will be a huge chance to show case themselves on a massive stage, where they will act as the supporting bout for Manny Pacquiao Vs Jeff Horn.
Of the two men the more proven is Ancajas, a talented Filipino dubbed the “Pretty boy”. Aged 25 he's another of the youngsters really making his name at 115lbs, and although a lot less well known than the fighters on “Superfly” he certainly has the skills to make a real mark in the division. He's a razor sharp southpaw who has gorgeous boxing skills, nasty stinging punches and lovely speed in both his feet and hands. He's not as destructive as Inoue, Gonzalez or Srisaket but he has impressively stopped 12 of his last 13 including Inthanon Sithchamuang and Jose Alfredo Rodriguez, and has shown his skills in Macao as well as the Philippines.
The one loss on Ancajas' record came way back in 2012 when he lost a razor thin decision to fellow Filipino Mark Anthony Geraldo. At the time he was just 20 years old and has clearly developed since then, showing real improvement in every part of his game and looking like a genuine natural in the ring. He stepped up against Arroyo and although he didn't dominate from start to finish he was the clear winner, and dropped the Puerto Rican, since then he has been waiting for a chance to really prove himself, and he'll know that this bout is a huge chance to do that.
Aged 31 Kinoshita is one of the more obscure title challengers, and one of the lesser well known Japanese fighters of note at Super Flyweight. The Southpaw is a former Japanese national champion, who held that title from 2012 when he beat Go Onaga to 2014 when he vacated to battle Tete for the then vacant IBF crown. Against Tete we saw a very poor Kinoshita look clueless, he was out boxed and out jabbed by the South African and struggled to claim even 2 rounds against Tete, though did manage to go the distance with him. Since that loss he has gone 6-0 (5) though hasn't really done anywhere near enough to deserve a second title fight, getting this by default as Arroyo failed to fight him in an eliminator.
It's worth noting that the one recent decision that Kinoshita won was a very controversial one against countryman Cyborg Nawatedani, in a bout that seemed like a clear win for Nawatedani who out worked and out landed Kinoshita through out. That result was so bad that the Japanese press criticised it, and we've actually not see Nawatedani fight since.
In the ring Kinoshita is a decent boxer, but nothing really stands out about him being anything special. He has a good engine, but not a spectacular one, he's shown his toughness with his guts being tested by Nawatedani, but really it was his skills and speed that helped him have success at domestic level. His recent stoppages have boosted his KO ratio significantly, from 3 KO's in his first 21 wins to 8 in 27 bouts, but they say more about his recent competition than anything else.
Whilst the bout looks good on paper, and significantly more well matched than Pacquiao Vs Horn, it's hard to imagine this being anything more than a show case win for Ancajas, with the actual result being dependent on just how tough Kinoshita is, and how much of a statement the Filipino wants to make. It may be that Kinoshita sees out the distance but we suspect Ancajas will take him out, likely in the middle rounds.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.