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.
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.