For Filipino boxing analysts and experts, World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao has a big chance to end a long drought of a knockout win when he faces Australian challenger Jeff Horn on Sunday at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia.
Boxing analyst Ed Tolentino predicted that former schoolteacher Horn (16-0-1 win-loss-draw record with 11 knockouts) would be lucky to survive the fight after seven rounds against the Filipino ring icon.
“Horn is more than eager to take the fight to Pacquiao, while Pacquiao can’t wait to end his knockout drought. This makes the fight exciting. Horn’s offense and movement are limited, though he owns a good right straight,” Tolentino told The Manila Times on Saturday.
“But Pacquiao’s skills remain topnotch and his leg movement and varied offense [will]befuddle Horn. I see a stoppage within seven rounds, with Pacquiao forcing the referee to pull the plug on account of the unabated punishment a battered Horn is taking.”
Tolentino said the 38-year-old Pacquiao (59-6-2 record with 38 knockouts) would easily hit the 29-year-old Horn to the body with accurate punches.
“Horn has never faced anyone with the speed of Pacquiao. Pacquiao will make Horn look silly with his movement and precise punching,” said Tolentino. “Fatigue and frustration will build up for Horn. Note also the weight issues.
This will make his body a tempting target for Manny,” he added.
Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) executive director Ed Picson believes that experience, power and speed would be Pacquiao’s advantages over his younger opponent.
“You can never tell for a young guy, who’s hungry for a world title. But I have a feeling that Manny might score a knockout win because there are reports that Horn had a hard time reaching the 147-pound weight limit,” he said.
“It’s going to be Manny’s superb experience, power and speed.”
On Saturday’s official weigh-in, Horn barely made the limit while Pacquiao tipped the scale at 146.
“It’s very hard to reduce weight with only few days left before the fight,” added Picson.
Top Rank Promotion head Bob Arum expects Horn to deliver the best performance in his boxing career.
“It’s Jeff Horn’s fight of his life, something he probably dreamed of. You’ll see the best possible Jeff Horn he can be. He’s really motivated and inspired. He trained very hard,” said Arum.
“He is in very, very good shape, a very good puncher too. Horn is also taller than Manny,” he added.
When asked if Pacquiao could finally end his knockout drought, Arum said: “I don’t know, I don’t know if Manny can figure it out. It is like going to a baseball game and you’re waiting for a guy to hit a homerun.”
For International Boxing Federation (IBF) light flyweight champion Milan Melindo, Pacquiao would go for an impressive knockout win against Horn to get a possible rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr., who came out of retirement to fight mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor next month.
“He (Pacquiao) will do his very best for this fight. At the same time, Manny’s condition looks great and Horn is in trouble,” said Melindo.