Manny con­cerns ahead of Horn bout

The Observer - - DIGEST SPORT - Adam San­tarossa news.com.au

BOX­ING: Manny Pac­quiao is not the fighter he once was and that’s what brings him to Sun­corp Sta­dium on Sun­day.

Pac­quiao is ripe for the pick­ing. The ques­tion is whether Jeff Horn is good enough to bring him crash­ing down.

I was ringside in Las Ve­gas for Pac­quiao’s last fight against Jessie Var­gas at the Thomas and Mack Cen­tre and the Filipino’s per­for­mance wasn’t that im­pres­sive. Sure he won the fight, but it wasn’t like the Pac­quiao of old.

He dom­i­nated the fight and won most rounds, but Pac­quiao should have got Var­gas out of there early and re­ally made a state­ment.

His hand speed was still there, but the pop was miss­ing from his punches. That power has of­ten cov­ered Pac­quiao’s mis­takes. He’d leave him­self open, but hurt the guy enough that he couldn’t get caught in re­turn.

His team put a PR slant on the per­for­mance say­ing Pac­quiao didn’t want to hurt Var­gas.

Jessie Var­gas is a world class fighter who knows how to mix it with the best of them – you don’t need sav­ing when you’re the WBO wel­ter­weight cham­pion.

There’s al­ways a rea­son when a fight doesn’t go to plan. It’s the art of box­ing. In­jury, in­ter­rupted build-up, dif­fi­cult weight cut – these tales are more of­ten heard in de­feat than vic­tory though.

A shutout win over Var­gas for Pac­quiao was pre­ceded by a com­fort­able win over Ti­mothy Bradley. Those fights came af­ter his clash with Floyd May­weather where he was com­fort­ably beaten – an in­jured shoul­der the rea­son given for his loss.

The only rea­son this fight with Horn is hap­pen­ing is be­cause Pac­quiao can­not com­mand what he once did. The Bat­tle of Bris­bane is his best of­fer on the ta­ble.

His team doesn’t want to risk a fight against some­one like Ter­ence Craw­ford or Amir Khan.

Yes, he’d make a lot of money against a more recog­nis­able name but if he loses, there goes any fu­ture pay­days. Plus, the mar­ketplace isn’t ready for those fights. Brand Pac­quiao needs a boost first.

PHOTO: CHRIS HYDE/GETTY

EYE OF THE TIGER: Manny Pac­quiao dur­ing a train­ing ses­sion at Lang Park PCYC.

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