Pacquiao schooled by ex-teacher Horn
Filipino's camp slams judges after shock loss, both fighters open to rematch
Australia's Jeff Horn stunned Filipino Manny Pacquiao in a bloody Brisbane battle to claim a unanimous 12-round decision and win the WBO world welterweight title in front of 51,000 fans at Lang Park yesterday.
The unheralded 29-year-old, who improved his record to 17-0-1, was awarded the win over the eight-division world champion by scores of 117-111, 115-113 and 115-113.
"I'm so happy, I can't describe my feelings," Horn, a former school teacher, said at ringside, before welcoming the prospect of a rematch.
"I've just believed since I was very young that I could do this."
Pacquiao, one of the finest boxers of his generation, paid the price for a slow start and his inability to end the fight with a knockout.
The 38-year-old was knocked off his stride by the aggression of the taller and heavier Australian in the early rounds, but looked to have weathered the storm as the fight progressed.
With blood pouring from both sides of his forehead after accidental butts, the southpaw launched a fierce assault on Horn which nearly ended the contest in round nine.
"Show me something in this round, or I'm going to stop the fight," the referee warned the Australian.
Horn, who was cut above his right eye in round two, said he was exhausted and rattled by the Filipino's punches.
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"It was hard, hard getting through that round, hard getting hit, getting caught with a shot and then continue on," Horn said. "(But) I was like, 'Settle down everyone, I'm fine'. I was recovering pretty quickly."
Horn showed remarkable powers of recuperation as he battled on through the final three rounds with Pacquiao, who earned the last of his 38 knockouts in 2009.
The bout ended with the fighters in a clinch on the ropes and, although Pacquiao gave a little shuffle to show he had plenty left in the tank, his fate was in the hands of the judges.
"Very tough. I didn't expect that tough. We thought that we won this fight," said Pacquiao, whose record now reads 59-7-2.
"It's okay, it's part of the game. That's the decision of the judges, I respect that."
Pacquiao's camp, though, slammed the officials for awarding the unanimous decision in Horn's favour.
"The referee was sketchy, the judges were crazy," fumed Pacquiao's strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune, a former Australian heavyweight champion.
"Manny lost the fight, but Jeff Horn looks like a pumpkin," Fortune added, referring to Horn who finished the fight with a badly swollen face and needing stitches over his right eye.
The result also caused dismay on social media among boxing and sporting greats.
"This is what's wrong with boxing," tweeted former world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis. "Horn was very game, but I'm hard pressed to see how he could have won that fight by any stretch!"
American football quarterback Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers was equally forthright.
"Boxing is a joke, and it proves it again tonight. Are you kidding me with those scorecards? #joke #rigged," Rodgers said on Twitter.
The fight statistics seemed to back the belief that Pacquiao had done more than enough to win. Broadcaster ESPN said that Pacquiao had landed 182 punches to 82 from Horn over the 12 rounds.
Two of the judges, Waleska Roldan and Chris Flores, were from the United States while the third, Ramon Cerdan, was from Argentina. The referee, Mark Nelson, was also from the US.
Pacquiao, who had hoped for an impressive victory to pave the way for another fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr, said he would "absolutely" return for a rematch against Horn.
"Well, it depends, there is no problem with me if there's a rematch," Pacquiao said.
"It would be better if the rematch would be held in the Philippines."
An emotional Horn brandished a walking stick as he also called out the undefeated Mayweather, who has come out of retirement at 40 years of age for a 12-round crossover boxing match against mixed martial arts champion Conor McGregor.
"This is no joke, which one does he want? The walking stick or the gloves?" said Horn. - WIRE SERVICES