This past weekend WBO welterweight title holder Manny Pacquiao 59-7-2 (38) lost his title to unheralded Jeff Horn 17-0-1 (11) of Australia, where the bout was contested. In the eyes of the three judges, Horn, a 5/1 underdog, won a unanimous decision by the scores of 115-113 twice, which is 7 rounds to 5, and 117-111 or 9 rounds to 3. As has been the case with some other recent fights that have gone the 12-round distance, there has been a mass outrage over the decision because an overwhelming percentage of those who watched the fight saw Pacquiao as the winner, and without reservation.
Full disclosure: I scored the fight 116-112 or 8 rounds to 4 in favor of Pacquiao while watching the fight live and in the moment. That was my score, perhaps I was a round off on either side. And like the judges I don’t get a do-over. For the umpteenth time — and this is so important — the only score that counts is the one tabulated while you watch the fight live as it unfolds without knowing for sure how it’ll end. That’s because everyone, including the judges, would score the same fight differently on Sunday afternoon than they did on Saturday night. Once you know the result of a fight, your entire perception is compromised watching the replay of it. I couldn’t care less how anyone scored the fight watching the replay….that doesn’t count.
It’s been reported Freddie Roach has suggested Manny retire. To that I say, as an elite fighter he already has retired. Pacquiao is no longer elite or in consideration for the pound-for-pound list. He can live with and navigate past the Jeff Horns of the world, but would be totally outclassed if he fought an elite fighter. Personally, I think Roach is blowing smoke and he fully expects Pacquiao to fight again. And most likely versus Jeff Horn, something Manny has stipulated since the fight concluded. With that in mind, here are some final thoughts and takeaways from the fight.
Pacquiao-Horn Final Thoughts:
This is what I know: The Pacquiao-Horn bout had a lot of tough rounds to score. Depending on whether you like clean-punching or sheer aggression that wasn’t all that effective, very well may have swayed how you scored particular rounds — which in turn is a monumental swing in a 12-round fight. Switch one round and a 115-113 fight becomes a draw at 114-114.
This is what I know: Jeff Horn must’ve gained 15-20 pounds after the weigh-in, and held at least a 15-pound weight advantage over Pacquiao in the ring during the bout.
This is what I know: Jeff Horn fought a great fight, strategically. He used his height and weight to bull Pacquiao around the ring. He shoved and pushed him around to break up his rhythm and ability to set and get off. Horn was the bigger man and fought big from start to finish and that clearly affected why Pacquiao missed so many punches, and felt he needed to take a couple of rounds off.
This is what I know: Pacquiao has really slowed and lost his offensive explosiveness. He needs to think his way through the fight whereas he used to react instinctively and flow from sequence to sequence.
This is what I know: Pacquiao, without question, landed the cleaner and more effective punches in most of the rounds. No, he never got a true read on Horn because Jeff was changing his roughhouse tactics, but he was able to score without getting a return receipt in more exchanges than not.
This is what I know: The only round in which one fighter dominated the other was round nine. Pacquiao hit Horn with everything in the book everywhere except the bottom of his feet. Horn was very fortunate to survive the round. And Pacquiao spent a lot of himself physically in failing to score his first stoppage win since 2009…….and Horn rebounded and won the 10th round due to Manny trying to catch a breather.
This is what I know: Pacquiao, based on my gut considering the fight in its totality, and my round-by-round scorecard, won the fight. His margin of victory could vary anywhere from two to five points. But Pacquiao won the fight.
This is what I know: Jeff Horn had nothing to do with anything that transpired with the judges or outside of the ring. He earned a great opportunity and made the most of it. Salute his effort.
This is what I know: The decision favoring Horn isn’t anywhere near the worst decision we’ve seen in boxing. But the case is definitely stronger for Pacquiao winning than it is for Horn, and I’m not even going to cite the punch-stats because they never tell the entire story pertaining to any particular fight. If they were the be-all and end-all, professional boxing would be scored like Olympic boxing.
This is what I know: Nobody is talking about how far back Pacquiao started declining as a fighter. The version that fought Floyd Mayweather in 2015 was a distant memory of the one who stopped Miguel Cotto in 2009, and the one who fought Jeff Horn is a ghost of the fighter he was at his best.
This is what I know: The Pacquiao vs. Horn bout was an exciting fight from start to finish. Add to that it wasn’t on PPV and it really was a win-win for everybody. Everyone reading this would set aside plans in order to catch the rematch if it were on cable TV.
This is what I know: Neither promoter Bob Arum nor Manny Pacquiao was the least bit upset by losing a decision most everyone thought Pacquiao deserved to get. That bothers me! Maybe Pacquiao has concluded there’s no difference in having seven career defeats than six if he can fight a beatable opponent in Horn again for another $10-20 million dollars. The decision against Pacquiao buys him at least another year and huge payday.
This is what I know: Pacquiao would be hurt and beat up if he fought WBA/WBC title holder Keith Thurman or IBF titlist Errol Spence. It extends Pacquiao’s career and helps Arum if Manny loses a disputed decision to a real life Rocky in his hometown, thus turning their first meeting into a series or even a trilogy. Under those conditions, Arum still controls the WBO title regardless whether it is held by Pacquiao or Horn. And at the same time stalls Pacquiao from fighting Thurman, Spence or Terence Crawford — thus allowing Arum to control the WBO title longer.
This is what I know: Stephen A. Smith of ESPN isn’t qualified to be a voice of authority on boxing on the Cartoon network, let alone a sports station. He brings nothing to the broadcast. His lack of boxing aptitude and intuition is glaring. Not knowing anything about Horn’s previous opponents Ali Funeka, a three time world lightweight title challenger, and Randall Bailey, a former great puncher and two weight division world title holder, was an embarrassment and a sign of laziness. His dismissal of Funeka and Bailey was an insult to all working pro fighters.
This is what I know: Judge Waleska Roldan’s scorecard 117-111 favoring Horn smells of incompetence and perhaps worse. She only gave Pacquiao the 3rd, 8th and 9th rounds? If she legitimately saw the fight that way, she needs her license revoked, possibly forever.
This is what I know: Boxing is having one of its best years in a decade – and that won’t be ruined by the decision rendered after the Pacquiao-Horn title bout Saturday night.
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Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com