Though it's far from the biggest boxing event of the year, Saturday's encounter between Manny Pacquiao and Jeff Horn at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia, could have sportwide implications.
Pacquiao and his WBO welterweight championship can't compete with Floyd Mayweather Jr. coming out of retirement to take on Conor McGregor in August, even if it isn't the purest matchup from a sheer boxing standpoint.
But Pac-Man's future in the sport might swing in the balance Saturday regardless of hype. Ditto for Horn, who could propel himself to superstardom in front of a friendly crowd by taking down a legend.
It won't do numbers anywhere close to Mayweather-McGregor, even as a broadcasted event, but Saturday's bout might be just as important.
Pacquiao vs. Horn
What: WBO welterweight title bout
Where: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia
When: Saturday, July 1
Time: 9 p.m. ET
National TV: ESPN
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Odds: Pacquiao 1-6, Horn 19-4
Odds are courtesy of OddsShark
Can Manny Pacquiao finish Jeff Horn and revamp his career? Or will Horn score a big upset? We find out Saturday at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. https://t.co/28X2DhNZb22017-6-30 19:00:41
As seen above, oddsmakers out of Las Vegas don't give Horn much of a chance.
The approach makes sense, though it'd be remiss not to mention how odd this is for Pacquiao.
After all—Pacquiao is 38 years old. After going down at the hands of Mayweather in May 2015, he pursued the political realm in his native Philippines again and also polished off a series against Timothy Bradley before running circles around Jessie Vargas late last year.
But Horn isn't what most had in mind if Pacquiao decided to take another fight. Conventional wisdom suggested someone like Amir Khan, not someone like Horn at a place like Brisbane on an event not even classified as pay-per-view.
It's not even about the money. Pacquiao will make a cool $10 million compared to Horn's $500,000 before tacking on ticket sales, per Grantlee Kieza of the Courier Mail, but it's not a head-turning purse for a legend of the sport.
Yet here we are.
After Friday's weigh-in, Pacquiao wasn't shy in praising his opponent, according to Gilbert Manzano of the Las Vegas Review-Journal: "We wanted to give Horn a chance. He's undefeated. He has earned it."
Same story for a Horn practice session that Pacquiao watched, as captured by Top Rank:
Top Rank Boxing @trboxing
When @MannyPacquiaoTR slipped into a @JeffHornBoxer training session, well, the champ liked what he saw. #PacHorn https://t.co/x0h6YtZQnO2017-6-28 13:00:06
Though he doesn't think Pacquiao will lose Saturday night in front of more than 50,000 expected fans, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said they picked Horn for good reason, per Manzano.
"This is not a case where my matchmakers picked out a fighter and put him in a fight. This is the case where I saw the kid (Horn) fight myself in New Zealand. I'm telling you, this kid can fight," Arum said.
Horn, a former physical education teacher, is 29 years old and a winner in 16 of his 17 career fights, his lone draw coming back in 2013. Most recently, he dropped Ali Funeka via knockout in December.
Horn himself won't lack for confidence heading into Saturday, and he said he has more to draw from than the home crowd.
"I haven't cut any corners for this fight; I have worked extremely hard, and I enjoy reading the comments of people saying 'he's no chance,' 'he can't match the speed of Pacquiao,' this and that. I just look forward to proving those people wrong," Horn said, according to ESPN.com's Jake Michaels.
And from an on-paper standpoint, an upset isn't a complete impossibility. Horn has only been a pro since 2013 and hasn't stepped into the ring with a fighter of Pacquiao's quality before, but he's almost a decade younger and has some nice speed.
Pair it with Pacquiao having lost a step, his chin's failed him twice dating back to 2012 and he isn't 100 percent committed to the sport anymore, and yes, this has all the ingredients of a possible upset that writers in Hollywood would dream up.
When it comes down to prediction time, it's still best to side with the safe route rolled out by oddsmakers and side with Pacquiao.
There's a randomness to Horn sure to draw in bettors hunting for a big payday. He hasn't been tested before at this level of competition, and Pacquiao is both slower and is no longer the knockout king of his prime.
Barring a shocker in the early rounds, though, it's hard to see a reality in which Pacquiao doesn't outpoint the less experienced Horn for the duration of the match.
Prediction: Pacquiao via unanimous decision