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Horn pulls off stunning win

Manny Pacquiao (left) clinches with Jeff Horn of Australia, during their WBO World Welterweight title fight in Brisbane, Australia. Pacquiao lost in a stunning, unanimous points decision. (AP)

Manny Pacquiao (left) clinches with Jeff Horn of Australia, during their WBO World Welterweight title fight in Brisbane, Australia. Pacquiao lost in a stunning, unanimous points decision. (AP)

by Nick Giongco

BRISBANE, Australia – Hulking Australian underdog Jeff Horn provided a landmark moment for Australian sports history on Sunday by scoring a 12-round unanimous decision over the bloodied Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao before a record crowd of 51,052 adoring fans at Suncorp Stadium.

Horn, picked to make Pacquiao look sensational again after a string of non-KO wins, was the one who made heads turn earning scores of 117-111 (Waleska Roldan of New York), 115-113 (Chris Florez of Arizona) and 115-113 (Ramon Cerdan of Argentina).

The victory awarded Horn the World Boxing Organization welterweight crown and most importantly, the bragging rights following a huge win over a certified all-time great.

“I feel amazing and I feel I am on cloud nine,” said Horn, who banked on his advantage in size and strategy to mess up Pacquiao’s quickness and experience.

Horn had shrugged off claims that Pacquiao would run roughshod over him owing to his being flat-footed and immobile but the 29-year-old local boy wasn’t the guy ringsiders thought he was.

Exhibiting snappy head movement, aggressiveness and a ton of bruising tactics, Horn threw Pacquiao off his game to raise his record to 17-0-1 with 11 KOs and possibly expedite the 38-year-old Pacquiao’s decision to retire.

At the end of the fight, Pacquiao’s head was cut on the right and left sides owing to accidental clash of heads in the sixth and seventh rounds. Referee Mark Nelson of the US ruled it both as accidental.

Horn took the first round by landing blows while Pacquiao was on the ropes, probably testing if the inexperienced challenger packed dynamites on both fists.

In the sixth round, a short right by Horn rattled Pacquiao, who shook his head to show that he was not in any trouble.

Still, Horn pressed on and stalked Pacquiao and even engaged with him at close range with the serious intent of sending him down.

In the ninth canto, Pacquiao came close to flooring Horn down as the crowd went wild.

But Pacquiao could not come up with the right combinations to get the job done, enabling Horn to survive the round and regain his wits.

Horn actually looked done and spent after the ninth round after Pacquiao scored heavily that one ringside official came up to his corner and asked if he was thinking of calling it quits.

Horn was even slightly turning his back in the ninth and Pacquiao’s fans thought they had the fight in the bag.

“Somebody told us that they’re close to stopping it and I told him, ‘No!’” said Horn.

Even Horn’s chief trainer Glenn Rushton thought stopping the fight was just uncalled for.

But Pacquiao surprisingly became gun-shy in the tenth, allowing Horn to regain his bearings and do the same thing in the 11th and 12th rounds to ensure the win over the future Hall of Famer.

Pacquiao wasn’t bitter when asked about the decision.

“That’s the decision of the judges and I respect that,” said Pacquiao, who now has lost four of his last nine fights.

But Pacquiao hinted that he might opt to face Horn in a rematch as their contract calls for a second meeting in case he loses.

“Absolutely,” said Pacquiao, who didn’t show up in the customary post-fight press conference as he had to be stitched up, according to Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum.

If a rematch happens, Pacquiao will have to travel here again to try and reclaim his title.

But it is definite that Pacquiao won’t get the same amount that was guaranteed him in case that happens.

Horn pocketed around $500,000, twenty times lower than Pacquiao’s purse for his first fight Down Under.

Still, Arum feels it’ll be too early to say what’s down the road for Horn and for Pacquiao, who was amenable to exercise the provision in the contract.