Horn sets sights on Mayweather after stunning Pacquiao victory
Little known Australian shocks boxing world with victory over eight-time champion
Jeff Horn beat Manny Pacquiao in Brisbane on Sunday to win the WBO welterweight championship in what the pundits are calling "one of boxing's greatest upsets".
In a gripping, brutal and controversial contest, the 29-year-old Australian's aggression seemed to surprise the legendary Filipino and he won the bout on points, the judges scoring it 117-111, 115-113, 115-113 in Horn's favour.
That stunned many pundits and former boxers, with ex-heavyweight world champion Lennox Lewis tweeting: "One judge had it 117-111? Wasn't the fight that I saw...Horn was very game but I'm hard pressed to see how he could have won that fight by any stretch."
The Filipino took the outcome with good grace. "Very tough. I didn't expect that tough," said the 38-year-old, who has won world titles at eight weight divisions. "It's OK, it's part of the game. That's the decision of the judges. I respect that."
Going into the fight, Horn had been the overwhelming underdog, with Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, predicting on the morning of the bout that Horn wouldn't last three rounds.
But the former teacher, who took up boxing only 11 years ago because he wanted to learn self-defence, fought with the fury of a man with nothing to lose.
Nonetheless Pacquiao scored points in the early rounds with his probing left jab but he was on the back foot in the middle rounds as the taller and heavier Australian cut him above both eyes. With blood streaming down his face, the champion launched a brutal attack in the ninth round, hurting the hometown fighter, but was unable to deliver the knockout blow.
The two tired in the final rounds and when the final bell went the judges deemed that Horn had done enough in the early stages of the fight to claim his stunning victory.
"I've just believed since I was very young that I could do this," said a jubilant Horn in front of 50,000 fans at the Suncorp Stadium.
Twenty-four hours later, as his victory sunk in, the Australian addressed the sceptics who believed he got lucky with the judges.
"There will always be a backlash where people say I got lucky, or whatever," he told reporters. "There will always be the naysayers saying I did not win the fight, but I felt like I won the fight. A lot of Queenslanders think I won the fight and people around the world."
Horn's first defence of his title will likely be against Pacquiao later this year (a rematch was part of the original contract between the pair) but the Australian would dearly love to fight the 40-year-old Mayweather before too long.
Brandishing a walking stick, the new champion taunted Mayweather by declaring: "This is no joke. Which one does he want, the walking stick or the gloves?"