Manny Pac­quiao’s ti­tle on the line in ‘Bat­tle of Bris­bane’

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Manny Pac­quiao has ducked and weaved, has been ac­cused of be­ing late and rude, and of think­ing more about a Floyd May­weather re­match than his WBO wel­ter­weight world ti­tle de­fense against Jeff Horn.

Af­ter week of fine-tun­ing in Aus­tralia, Pac­quiao and Horn eas­ily made weight at the Satur­day morn­ing weigh-in. The Filipino se­na­tor did a quick TV interview be­fore mak­ing a swift exit to eat.

Lo­cals have grum­bled that Pac­quiao only at­tended a for­mal pre-fight func­tion for a few min­utes on Fri­day, and Horn’s camp ac­cused Pac­quiao ear­lier in the week of be­ing late for the of­fi­cial news con­fer­ence and then con­stantly tex­ting on his cell phone through the event. What no­body can com­plain about is the pulling power of the 11-time world cham­pion. More than 50,000 tick­ets have been sold for the out­door bout to­day af­ter­noon at Sun­corp Sta­dium, and the so-called “Bat­tle of Bris­bane” is ex­pected to set records for payper-view in Aus­tralia.

For the first time since 2005, a Pac­quiao fight hasn’t been re­stricted to pay-per-view in Amer­ica. ESPN will broad­cast the fight to an es­ti­mated 95 mil­lion US homes in prime time Satur­day night.

“This is the time that I give back to the fans,” Pac­quiao said, adding that he’d sug­gested “let’s do free TV for the fans,” to Top Rank pro­mo­tor Bob Arum. “I have to give a good show for them,” he added. “This is it. I’m ex­cited.” Pac­quiao (59-6-2, 38 knock­outs) is de­fend­ing the WBO ti­tle he won on points against Jessie Var­gas last Novem­ber. That was one of the two fights he’s had - the other was a points win over Tim Brady in April of last year - since he lost the 2015 mega fight to May­weather.

Leg­endary trainer Fred­die Roach has pre­dicted a knock­out against Horn, say­ing Pac­quiao is per­fectly pre­pared and the fight should be “short and sweet.”

Pac­quiao hasn’t won by knock­out since 2009, but Roach said the 38-year-old eight­di­vi­sion champ has knocked down spar­ring part­ners and is in vin­tage form.

SNAP IS BACK

“Fred­die is very happy be­cause that snap is back, the power is there,” Pac­quiao said in an interview with ESPN af­ter the weigh-in. “I feel good. Weight is not a prob­lem. Let’s get it on.” Roach be­lieves Pac­quiao’s box­ing fu­ture de­pends on how the fight goes against Horn. If he were to lose, Roach said he’d likely rec­om­mend re­tire­ment. A com­fort­able win would add am­mu­ni­tion for a re­match with May­weather.

Pac­quiao has more than a decade of ex­pe­ri­ence in this en­vi­ron­ment, and said he likes to take on a boxer who has home­town ad­van­tage be­cause he en­joys the ex­tra buzz. Horn (16-0-1, 11 knock­outs) is un­beaten in his 17 fights since turn­ing pro in 2013, but has never con­fronted any­one of Pac­quiao’s cal­iber.

Ex­pe­ri­ence, “is my ad­van­tage,” Pac­quiao said. “But I want to make sure that I ... use it prop­erly and max­i­mize it.”

Pac­quiao tipped the scales at 66.1 kilo­grams (146 pounds) on Satur­day, and Horn weighed in at 63.35 kilo­grams (147 pounds) af­ter shed­ding 3 kilo­grams (6.6 pounds) in re­cent days.

Horn, a for­mer school teacher and Olympic quar­ter­fi­nal­ist be­fore turn­ing pro, said he had the reach and weight ad­van­tages over Pac­quiao, and had the range of punches that could cause the Filipino great some trou­ble. Dur­ing the week, he has talked about be­ing dis­re­spected amid talk of an­other Pac­quiao-May­weather fight, and said he had the weapons to knock out Pac­quiao.

“Game face is on. School is out,” Horn said. “I just keep that in my mind, what I’m go­ing to have to do in the ring, which will up­set Manny.” — AP

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