Tom Sorensen

Jeff Horn’s absurd victory over Manny Pacquiao should guarantee one thing for boxing

Jeff Horn of Australia celebrates after beating Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines during their WBO World Welterweight title fight in Brisbane, Australia, on Sunday. But did he really win?
Jeff Horn of Australia celebrates after beating Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines during their WBO World Welterweight title fight in Brisbane, Australia, on Sunday. But did he really win? AP

Like a lot of people who watched the Manny Pacquiao-Jeff Horn fight, I found the decision in favor of Horn absurd. Somebody wrote to tell me I was xenophobic.

The fight was in Brisbane, Australia, where Horn grew up and lives. Xenophobic means a prejudice against or a dislike of foreigners. I spent a month in Australia and loved it. Nobody dislikes Australians, except for maybe residents of New Zealand.

Australians didn’t score the fight. The judges were from Minnesota, Florida and Argentina. Two judges scored the fight 115-113. The woman from Minnesota scored the fight an inexplicable 117-111.

As a result, people have announced that boxing is dead. Is the NBA dead when a bad call determines the outcome? Is the NFL dead when an official misses a game-deciding pass interference call in the end zone?

ESPN televised the fight, which meant we didn’t have to pay to watch. The network will televise two other fairly high profile cards. The timing is good since many of us will pay $100 (or so) to watch Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor next month and Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez in September.

ESPN struggled, however. The telecast was not smooth. It was Rocky. There were too many Rocky references.

Every time Horn did something he was compared to Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky. Rocky hit the theaters 41 years ago. If a real fighter fought the way Rocky did, he’d travel on a board with wheels on it, pushing himself from place to place and calling for Adrian.

Also, and unfortunately, Pacquiao no longer is Pacquiao. He was so good at finding an angle and exploiting it, throwing combinations almost too fast to count. I don’t remember him throwing one combination against Horn. It’s not tough to figure out. Pacquiao will 39 in December. (Mayweather is 40 but has been hit considerably less in his career.) Pacquiao’s struggles were ignored for most of the broadcast.

Of course Pacquiao will not want to go out with the tarnished loss to Horn in his final fight. His contract calls for a rematch. Take it. Fight one more time, then head back to politics and popularity in the Philippines.

Pacquiao has been a special fighter. No reason to stick around and prove that he has ceased to be.

If boxing interests you, there’s a potentially very good local card July 29 at CenterStage in Noda.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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