BoxingManny Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao Loses Contentious W.B.O. Title Fight to Jeff Horn

It went all the way and ended in a contentiously bitter loss, the opposite of the outcome Manny Pacquiao’s handlers predicted for his World Boxing Organization welterweight title fight against Jeff Horn.

Pacquiao’s longtime trainer, Freddie Roach, predicted a “short and sweet” knockout win for Pacquiao, the 11-time world champion, in Sunday’s so-called Battle of Brisbane, but Horn won a unanimous decision in his first world title fight, delighting the crowd of 51,052 — a record for Australian boxing — at his hometown Suncorp Stadium.

Pacquiao, a 38-year-old Philippines senator, arrived in Brisbane a week before the fight with a chartered plane carrying more than a hundred supporters. He was favored to beat Horn but will leave without the W.B.O. belt.

All three judges awarded the bout to Horn, with Waleska Roldan scoring it 117-111 and Chris Flores and Ramon Cerdan both scoring it 115-113.

Some critics slammed the outcome as a hometown decision, noting that Pacquiao had landed twice the number of power punches that Horn did.

“That’s the decision of the judges; I respect that,” Pacquiao was quoted as saying by ESPN. “We have a rematch clause, so no problem.”

But Pacquiao’s conditioning trainer, the former Australian heavyweight Justin Fortune, was critical of the referee and the judging.

“Manny lost the fight, but Jeff Horn looks like a pumpkin,” Fortune said. “Those scores, that card? It should be the other way.”

Manny Pacquiao Loses Contentious W.B.O. Title Fight to Jeff Horn - The New  York Times

But Fortune also said that Pacquiao should have left no doubt about the result.

“When you come into someone’s backyard, you need to really do a number on them or knock them out,” he said. “That’s boxing.” He added, “Never leave it in the judges’ hands.”

Horn, 29, a former teacher, started strong and won at least three of the first five rounds on all three of the judges’ cards. After twice needing treatment for a bleeding cut on top of his head in the sixth and seventh rounds, Pacquiao appeared to dominate from the eighth round on.

He was close to finishing it in the ninth when he pounded Horn and had him wobbling — the referee, Mark Nelson, asked Horn’s camp before the 10th if he could continue — and could also have come out with the victory.

A spokesman said Pacquiao was dealing with head cuts and could not attend the postfight news conference. Pacquiao also declined to be interviewed in his dressing room.

Horn said he had been confident that he was ahead on points, and said he was startled after the ninth when the referee asked if he was able to continue.

“I felt buzzed for sure, but I’m the Hornet — I’ve got to come back,” Horn said. “I’m not a quitter. Australians aren’t quitters to start with. We’ve showed we’re winners.

“It was the Battle of Brisbane, that’s for sure. Absolutely unbelievable.”

The fight’s co-promoter, Bob Arum, said the result was close and “could have gone either way” late in the bout as both fighters looked for a decisive blow.

“A couple of close rounds,” Arum said, “but you can’t argue with the result.”

Arum said he scored many of the early rounds for Horn, then the middle rounds for Pacquiao.

“The 12th round, Jeff really won,” Arum said. “If you give Manny the 11th, you have it a draw. You give Jeff the 11th, it’s 7-5.”

Pacquiao loses contentious WBO title fight to Jeff Horn | CTV News

Roach said earlier in the week that he would consider advising Pacquiao to retire if he lost the fight, but afterward they were already considering a rematch.

Horn was not surprised.

“I’m sure he’ll want to come back,” Horn said. “It was a close decision, and I’m sure he’ll want to come back and prove himself.”

Pacquiao’s camp had talked about a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. if he made it past Horn, hoping to avenge his loss on points in their 2015 fight. That seems unlikely now.

Pacquiao entered the fight with a 59-6-2 record, but the most recent of his 38 wins by knockout was in 2009. Horn had not lost any of his previous 17 professional fights, but he had never encountered a fighter of Pacquiao’s credentials.

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