Manny Pacquiao may no longer be the headliner he once was during the prime of his career, but the 38-year-old welterweight and future Hall of Famer returns to the ring Saturday night against little-known Australian Jeff Horn.
Pacquiao (59-6-2) is doing so on Horn's home turf in Brisbane, Australia, at Suncorp Stadium. Horn (16-0-1) has beaten a couple of impressive fighters in Randall Bailey and Ali Funeka to earn the fight against the Filipino legend.
Pacquiao was victorious in his last bout against Jessie Vargas last November, and that fight demonstrated that he still has his excellent boxing skills. That is going to make it very difficult for Horn to launch any kind of consistent attack.
Pacquiao is a minus-550 favorite, according to OddsShark, meaning that a bettor would have to risk $550 to earn a $100 profit as a result of a Pacquiao victory. Horn is a plus-420 underdog.
Pacquiao has not earned a victory via a knockout or stoppage since 2008, and that was clearly not the case when he was in his heyday. Pacquiao has registered 38 knockouts in his career, but his fans haven't been able to see him show off that once-formidable power several years.
“I know @jeffhornboxer used to be a teacher. In the ring, I’m a teacher too" 💬 - @mannypacquiao 👨🏫 #PacHorn https://t.co/nKPbf8VBup2017-7-1 14:01:01
Pacquiao is putting his boxing skills on display on live television. The fight will be held Sunday afternoon local time in eastern Australia and will be broadcast on ESPN. The boxing broadcast begins at 9 p.m. ET Saturday.
Pacquiao's greatest assets at this point in his career appear to be his speed, defense and overall ring generalship. Horn has shown some power and aggressiveness, and that could leave him vulnerable to getting caught with several combinations if he is not able to connect with Pacquiao on a consistent basis.
Pacquiao says that he is happy that his fight is available on basic cable because it will give more fans a chance to see him fight than it would on pay-per-view.
"Yes, this is a great opportunity to show the fans of boxing that we are still here and not done in boxing," Pacquiao said, per Dan Rafael of ESPN.com. "So this is a good chance and we believe that a lot of people will be watching, and we spoke to [Top Rank promoter] Bob [Arum] and we decided to give the people a chance to watch the fight on a free station in America."
A crowd in the range of 55,000 to 60,000 is expected to attend the event, and nearly all will be cheering for Horn, their hometown hero.
Pacquiao says fighting in front of a crowd that will be cheering for his opponent doesn't bother him in the least, and it will just cause him to "focus" that much more.
Keep up with Manny Pacquiao 😳🥊 @BoxNationTV https://t.co/tztbCHAwZX2017-6-30 04:30:18
Pacquiao is no longer the fighter he was at the peak of his career, but he is still a fine technician and ring general who can beat all but the most elite fighters in the game.
Horn has some ability along with power, but he is not an elite competitor. While he will have the full support of the home crowd, it seems unlikely that he will find the range consistently against Pacquiao.
Pacquiao's ability to punch from different angles will confuse his opponent. While Horn has studied his opponent to prepare for the fight, it's quite a different thing when Pacquiao is right in front of him and winging his punches with abandon.
Pacquiao could register a knockdown or two in this fight, but the outcome will likely result in a decision.
Pacquiao should win it in decisive fashion, and it would be a surprise if Horn won more than three rounds on the judges' scorecards.