By Marc Livitz: It happened again. Manny Pacquiao didn’t close the show and paid dearly for it. Incredible doesn’t do the unanimous decision win for Jeff "The Hornet" Horn justice, unless the true meaning of the word, as in not credible is considered. Win sixty eluded Pacquiao as did an end to his nearly eight year knockout drought at the SunCorp Stadium in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. In terms of boxing telecasts in the United States and perhaps elsewhere in the world, the bout which took place around 2pm local time was the first time in a dozen years that the sport’s one and only eight division world champion didn’t fight on pay per view. ESPN seemed to spare no preparation in regard to the contest, while the fanfare and anticipation shown by the natives from Down Under seemed to signal a resounding promotional success.
American audiences are accustomed to seeing Pacquiao’s various highlights in the ring on ESPN, yet full fights have been subject to prime fees in recent memory. Prior to the opening bell, fans in attendance seemed to be left guessing whether Jeff Horn (17-0-1, 11 KO’s) could pull off the infinitely improbable or if this may have just been the beginning of Manny’s Magical Mystery Tour.
A contest on basic cable and one for the WBO welterweight championship, no less. Horn looked to stalk Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KO’s) in the opening moments in order to land his trademark right hand. Manny smiled back. Jeff pushed him against the ropes and attacked the body and threw an uppercut. A brief timeout took place in the closing minute so Horn could re-insert his mouthpiece. Hard return shots were landed by the "Pac Man" to close an eventful opening three minutes. Jeff looked to feign the jab and confuse Pacquiao early in the second. Body shots were exchanged. Horn landed a nice right and then Manny fired back with a left hook. Another solid left was landed by the Filipino superstar as his Australian foe charged inward.
Jeff continued to move forward as the third commenced. He made sure to land short punches whenever he and Pacquiao tied up before they could be separated by referee Mark Nelson. The battle of accuracy was easily won by Manny as a cut began to flow red over Horn’s right eye. A naturally bigger and stronger fighter, Horn attempted to outmuscle Manny every time he got too close. Pacquiao’s left was beginning to land with more regularity in round four as the bell sounded to put one third of the bout into the record books. Horn had thrown more, yet Manny landed almost twice as much while displaying superior technique and footwork in the fifth, which ended with hard left connects to his favor.
Pacquiao absorbed a right uppercut in the initial seconds of the sixth. Less than a minute into the round, an accidental head butt opened a cut along his hairline. Red streamed down the right side of his face and with around thirty seconds left, Horn landed by far his best punch of the fight. A short right caught Manny flush on the face. The seventh appeared to be a case of the shorter man, Pacquiao looking to negate the height and reach advantage of his unbeaten foe from Brisbane. Another right and another left landed for Manny just in time for yet another cut to open high on his head from yet another clash of heads. A short firefight highlighted the final twenty seconds leading up to the bell.
A messy eighth produced little, save for more tie up’s, holds, clinches and a slip to the canvas by Horn. The bell rang to begin the ninth and without any confusion, there had to many in attendance who assumed they’d be sitting in homeward bound traffic by this point. Jeff showed such heart and determination. Manny landed successive, unchallenged lefts and rights. By this point, half of the stadium was shaded from the Australian sun but Pacquiao appeared to be on the path of clear sunshine. As blood began to stream from Horn’s right eye, Manny began to land almost at will. Jeff’s face was busted up to a very messy degree. A ringside doctor examined him during the interim and in addition, Mark Nelson informed him that he had one round remaining to "show something" or the fight would be stopped. On to double digits the fight would go.
The two combatants remained game in the tenth and Horn seemed to be determined to make it to the last point in the bout. He used his jab to keep Pacquiao away and didn’t fall prey to the bludgeon treatment he received just a few minutes earlier. We’d get eleven rounds, at least. A counter left from the "Pac Man" answered a looping right miss from "The Hornet" early in the period. The round was close and Horn showed supreme courage as the fight would see the twelfth arrive. Jeff pressured his foe yet again while Manny still held hope that he’d score the knockout if he could just catch him coming forward. There would be no stoppage and each man was lifted by his respective corner as the bell rang to end the affair.
Scorecards of 117-111 with two at 115-113 were read by Michael Buffer as the enthusiastic crowd cheered and rose to their feet. The shock result was read to give the unanimous decision win to the new WBO welterweight champion, Jeff "The Hornet" Horn. Pacquiao indicated that he’d look to exercise a rematch clause and return to Australia for a rematch.