Undefeated Australian Jeff Horn is the leading contender to take on WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao in April at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. Horn’s promoter Dean Lonergan of Duco Promotions is currently in Los Angeles in negotiations with Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum for an April 23rd fight.
After scoring a sixth round stoppage over Ali Funeka on the undercard of the Joseph Parker vs Andy Ruiz heavyweight title fight in New Zealand in December, Horn’s team were looking at a lead up fight in order to lure Pacquiao to Australia later this year. However, after Pacquiao stated that he would require a $20 million purse to fight fellow American and current junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford, Arum has suggested that he wants to take Pacquiao on somewhat of a world tour with possible bouts in the UK, Mexico and the Middle East.
Pacquiao, who is coming off a unanimous decision win over Jesse Vargas for the WBO welterweight title in November, will require a big purse to face Horn but likely not what he would have required to fight Crawford. Horn has a high ranking in the WBO and IBF sanctioning bodies but doesn’t figure inside the Ring Magazine top ten and is currently ranked 12 by Boxrec. I personally think Horn has more credibility than the American based Ring Magazine gives him credit for but he is, at the very highest, the tenth ranked welterweight in the world in a packed welterweight division.
Manny Pacquiao wouldn’t be the first huge star to travel to Australia, however he would likely be the most popular fighter to ever fight on Australian soil. Australia has hosted a number of huge names in boxing in the last 110 years. Jack Johnson became the first African American world heavyweight champion at Rushcutter’s Bay in Sydney when he defeated Tommy Burns with a 14th round stoppage in 1908. The great uncrowned champion Sam Langford fought five 20 round bouts with Sam McVey (another great heavyweight who was ducked because of the colour of his skin) in Sydney and Brisbane from 1911-1913.
Prior to his reign as light heavyweight champion, Archie Moore toured Australia and fought in bouts with local champions Ron Richards and Fred Henneberry as well as other local club fighters. Masahiko “Fighting” Harada fought Johnny Famechon for his WBC featherweight title in 1969, losing a close decision. Jeff Fenech fought two legends of the sport in Carlos Zarate and Azumah Nelson on Australian soil while more recently Roy Jones jnr and Shane Mosley fought out of their primes (and their natural weight classes) in losing efforts to Danny Green and Anthony Mundine repsectively.
While this fight would be huge for Australian Boxing (even more if Horn were to upset Pacquiao), Pacquiao isn’t the greatest fighter to fight in Australia, he is just the most well known.