Horn Talks Pacquiao Win, Chasing Mayweather
Oftentimes in boxing, the narrative of the bout is written before the fight even takes place. A fight between two men is sometimes promoted as a showcase for one, while the other is sketched in one dimension, a faceless foe for the main attraction to beat up.
On July 2 in his home country, Australian boxer Jeff Horn entered a fight with such a narrative and shattered it.
Horn, 29, was fighting one of boxing’s living legends in Manny Pacquiao. The Filipino fighter held the WBO welterweight title, but his presence in the sport overshadowed any championship belt. The fight, broadcast on ESPN in the United States, was meant to showcase Pacquiao, the aging fighter eager to prove he still had plenty left in the tank.
Twelve rounds later, Pacquiao was stunned as the judges awarded Horn a unanimous decision victory. The ruling was controversial, with many believing Pacquiao had deserved the nod, but nobody could deny that the Australian underdog had greatly exceeded expectations.
In an interview with Fight Sports a week after his stunning victory, Horn discussed just how fast a boxer’s life can change after one night.
“I always imagined making it in this sport, I always pictured myself in boxing making it to the spot,” he said. “But it’s something I kind of never really pictured was the amount of attention you get from it. Especially the attention you get when you’re not really ready for it. That’s what changed for me: getting recognized more, obviously here in Australia at the moment I can’t go past a room without people recognizing me. It’s a massive change over this last week.”
Though the increased spotlight could overwhelm an unheralded fighter thrust into it, Horn speaks about his newfound notoriety with a genuine joy.
“It’s really cool,” he said. “I’m lapping it up, I’m enjoying it. It means that I’ve been successful.”
The day of the interview, the WBO released their results from their second ruling of the fight, where they had five independent judging watch the bout again. A majority of them scored it for Horn, as the three judges in Australia had on the night of the fight.
Though he hasn’t been bothered by the controversy surrounding his win, Horn admits that the WBO standing behind the decision felt almost like a second victory.
“It was satisfying to hear that,” he said. “It almost felt like I won the fight for a second time.”
With the controversial decision finally put to rest, Horn is looking to the future — and that means potentially stepping into the ring with Pacquiao again. The first bout had a rematch clause in the contract, meaning that Pacquiao will be granted a chance to avenge the loss if he wants it. The Filipino legend has yet to confirm whether he will fight Horn again or retire, though.
If he doesn’t fight Manny for a second time, Horn has a rather surprising idea for who his next opponent will be, and it’s proof of his desire to take his newfound fame to the next level.
“I’ll be looking for a big fight. I’ve mentioned Floyd Mayweather as one of them,” Horn said. “He’s the biggest name in the sport in our era, so to take someone on like that would be another dream come true.”
Mayweather, of course, is preoccupied with his massive fight against MMA superstar Conor McGregor, so a bout in the near-future with Horn is admittedly a long shot. But Horn fully intends to call out Floyd with every chance he gets.
“I’ll be campaigning for it, that’s for certain,” he said.
Whether or not Horn gets the blockbuster fight he’s looking for, it is clear that the newly crowned champion isn’t resting on his laurels after getting a taste of the spotlight. He knows that the other champions of the welterweight division, Errol Spence and Keith Thurman, have their sights on him now that he has dethroned Pacquiao. And he’s ready to take on all comers.
“I’ve been looking at these guys for a while now,” he said. “I think they’ve done well but Thurman is probably higher up on the list. He’s got two belts, and I’d like to have three. Errol Spence as well, he’s a good fighter but I’d take him on as well…I like southpaws.”