The recent WBO welterweight title fight between former eight division champion Manny Pacquiao and the relatively unknown challenger Jeff Horn was supposed to be a routine win for the Filipino superstar.
After all, Horn was unbeaten but pretty much unheard of outside of Australasian boxing circles having not boxed anywhere apart from Australia and New Zealand and not really having beaten anyone outstanding.
Far from an easy win for a fighter winding down his career before retirement, however, Pacquiao was unexpectedly beaten, losing a unanimous decision by scores of 111-117, 113-115 and 113-115 by ringside judges. A decision that putting it mildly the majority of observers didn’t agree with.
In response to protests from the Pacquiao camp, the WBO asked five independent judges to rescore the fight, who came up with the same result as the judges on the night in scoring the fight for Jeff Horn. As per the WBO the five judges were from different countries and watched the fight without sound, presumably in order to lessen potential influence that the noise of the fans may have had.
The use of the independent judges seems an odd move from the WBO since they could not overturn the original result and at most could have suggested a rematch if the fight was found to have been scored incorrectly.
I love this sport and until the passion is gone, I will continue to fight for God, my family, my fans and my country
In this case, a rematch is already on the cards as it represents the best and most lucrative option for both fighters going forward so essentially the judges being right or wrong the first time is irrelevant. The loss will remain on Pacquiao’s record and the win on Horn’s regardless of whatever the judges had said.
The bigger question remaining is whether at 38 Manny Pacquiao should take the rematch or retire, given that he lost to such an unknown opponent and is only going to get older before any rematch could take place.
Although most felt Pacquiao won the fight, many also thought that he looked like a declining fighter without the same kind of fire he had years ago. Longtime trainer Freddie Roach has also been hinting lately that Pacquiao’s time in the ring is drawing to a close.
The final gamble of his career may be whether he would rather retire with his record relatively intact or risk another loss against a much younger opponent.
Over the years far too many great fighters have fought past their prime, losing to opposition they would have easily finished in years gone by.
This begs the question of whether the Pacquiao of ten years ago have blown Jeff Horn out of the water?
That being the case is it wise for him to continue to fight against up and coming fighters such as Horn as he declines and gets older?
Jeff Horn, however, isn’t a fighter set to take the division by storm. He almost certainly won’t be unifying titles or winning lineal championships at multiple weights. Added to those facts, the decision he got over Pacquiao has been disputed by many who saw the fight, and while he had success during periods, it was Pacquiao who seemed the closest to finishing the fight and clearly inflicted the most damage.
The statistics after the fight also showed that Pacquiao landed more than double the punches Horn did although he threw less overall, 182 out of 573 (32%), while Horn managed only 92 of 625 thrown (15%).
Pictures of the two fighters shortly after the fight also showed Horn looking battered and bruised while Pacquiao was relatively unscathed, further fueling talk of a rematch.
Pacquiao is also no stranger to avenging defeats, and has been on the receiving end of controversial decisions in the past. So from his own perspective this won’t be a damaging loss.
As far as the fighter himself is concerned there is no question over whether he will fight on, and he recently took to Twitter to say:
“I love this sport and until the passion is gone, I will continue to fight for God, my family, my fans and my country.”
For the time being this seems to be the right stance to take. The loss was controversial, to an opponent he is more than capable of beating and who doesn’t pose a massive risk of doing him long term damage.
A win over Jeff Horn does little for Pacquiao’s extensive record but it does avenge a loss that most felt he shouldn’t have had.
Hopefully, when it really is time for Pacquiao to retire in the not too distant future, he doesn’t fight on any longer than he should and can make the decision on his own without having to go out on a series of losses.