Manny Pacquiao was expected to go to Brisbane, Australia, and defeat inexperienced challenger Jeff Horn with ease, but a controversial decision went against the Filipino fighter.
Horn won a unanimous decision even though Pacquiao basically landed double the number of punches that his opponent threw, according to CompuBox. However, Horn got off to an excellent start in the first round and was aggressive throughout the fight.
That aggressiveness was Horn's biggest asset. He was never afraid of his opponent, and he didn't seem to go into the WBO welterweight championship fight trying to survive. He went into the fight trying to win the boxing match.
That's unusual for a fighter who came into the match with 17 career fights. Horn has a 17-0-1 fight record after the victory, while Pacquiao dropped to 59-7-2 with the loss.
Pacquiao dropped the first round, but he seemed to perform much better in the ensuing rounds. He was able to land his clean left-hand leads and get to his opponent on a consistent basis. However, those punches did not seem to hurt Horn.
Pacquiao opened a small cut over Horn's eye in the third round, but Horn's corner did a good job of controlling the bleeding and not letting that abrasion have a huge influence on the outcome.
Pacquiao suffered two cuts in the fight in the middle rounds, and both were ruled to have occurred as a result of head butts. Pacquiao asked the doctors to take a look at both cuts, and he seemed quite concerned about the bleeding. However, once he was allowed to keep going, he fought gamely.
The fight seemed to turn in Pacquiao's direction in the ninth round. He was able to land his signature straight left at will, and Horn was unable to stop him from connecting.
Horn was not only bleeding badly, he stumbled late in the round after taking two hard left hands.
He appeared ready to go down, but he managed to stay on his feet. At the end of that round, referee Mark Nelson trailed Horn into his corner and nearly stopped the fight. Horn was told by the referee to step up his game in the 10th round or the fight would be stopped.
Horn responded well, and he was aided because Pac-Man appeared to tire in the 10th round. Pacquiao did not appear to land any more punches that hurt his opponent after the ninth round.
Still, Pacquiao landed 182 punches in the fight, compared to 92 for Horn. Nevertheless, the judges gave Horn a unanimous victory.
Judge Waleska Roldan had it 117-111, while judges Chris Flores and Ramon Cerdan both scored 115-113 decisions in favor of Horn.
Horn said he thought he won the fight even though his opponent had more punches landed. He told ESPN interviewers that he thought his aggressiveness allowed him to earn the decision.
In a sport that is often given to bombast from its participants, especially after a controversial decision, Pacquiao showed remarkable restraint.
While analysts claimed the judges were incompetent or worse, Pacquiao did not take that tack.
"That's the decision of the judges," he said, per Dan Rafael of ESPN.com. "I respect that."
Horn made his biggest impressions in the first and last rounds. He threw 67 punches in the final round, and while many of them missed, he was aggressive throughout.
Pacquiao has a rematch clause with Horn, and he said after the fight that he wants to take advantage of it. Horn had no objections and said he would fight Pacquiao again.
It was clearly a controversial night, and Pacquiao appeared to have an edge as a result of the number of punches he landed. However, Horn's aggressiveness served him well, and the relatively unknown fighter is now a champion.