Manny Pacquiao will take some time before deciding whether to hang up his gloves or take up the option of a rematch with Australian Jeff Horn, according to promoter Bob Arum.
The eight-division world champion suffered a shock unanimous points defeat to home fighter Horn at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium at the weekend, with the Filipino losing his WBO welterweight title.
Two judges scored the contest 115-113 — seven rounds to five in Horn’s favour — while judge Waleska Roldan of New York handed in a lopsided and slightly farcical card of 117-111 after a competitive tussle which saw the Aussie defy most pre-fight predictions of a handy Pacquiao win.
The judges’ decision was contentious, with many at ringside, including this reporter, scoring the fight for the defending champion.
“We’d welcome the rematch, but I don’t know Manny’s future position,” said Arum, who did not think the decision was controversial, claiming a close fight could have gone either way.
“I don’t know is he going to stay in politics and not continue in boxing, I don’t know and it’s unfair to ask him today. Let a week go by and we’ll figure it out,” added the Top Rank promoter, referring to his star’s obligations as a senator in his native Philippines.
Pacquiao — who did not attend the post-fight press conference due to medical treatment for cuts on his scalp — could not be blamed should his decision be influenced by some bitterness after being the victim of another questionable points call.
The Filipino dropped a contentious 2012 points decision to Tim Bradley before avenging that robbery with two subsequent wins over the American, and yet again the PacMan was left scratching his head at the judges’ cards over the weekend.
By no means did the 38-year-old dominate the fight, and if anything the competitive bout was a further sign of Pacquaio’s gradual decline, but he did seem to have the better of the contest.
Horn, a 7/2 pre-fight underdog, boxed well and made a mockery of pre-fight predictions of a one-sided hiding, but the Aussie was badly hurt in the ninth round by an accumulation of punches.
“That was just, I guess, my heart that kept me going,” said Horn on his close call. “He caught me with a couple of good shots in that round and I did go back in that round probably a bit more than I did in any other round of the fight.
“I still felt good. A bit blurry in that right eye — I don’t know if it was [from] a head clash or a punch — but I came back in the 10th, 11th and 12th,” said the 29-year-old.
Both fighters sported the scars of battle late on in the bout, Horn marked up on his right eye, while Pacquiao was cut on both sides of his scalp with referee Mark Nelson twice calling the ringside doctor to inspect the latter’s wounds.
Brisbane local Horn showed tremendous heart to come through that ninth round after making a great start to the bout, with his busy approach paying dividends in the early rounds.
However, Pacquaio’s cleaner work from the midway point on deserved more acknowledgment from the judges as his record slipped to 59-7-2 after his seventh defeat.
The result matched the occasion for Brisbane, however, as a bumper crowd of 51,025 created a fantastic atmosphere in a Suncorp Stadium bathed in sunshine for a daytime card held in the afternoon (local time) to suit US primetime Saturday-night TV.
It was not a sellout as had been predicted by the event’s promoters, but the crowd numbers and anticipated pay-per-view TV figures mean the Pacquaio-Horn bill was the biggest boxing bill ever staged in Australia in terms of attendance and revenue.
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