Horn poached win, say vig­or­ous crit­ics

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

BRIS­BANE: Manny Pac­quiao had al­ready left town with­out say­ing much, even as crit­i­cism of the ref­eree in the WBO welterweight world ti­tle fight and the judges who awarded an unan­i­mous points de­ci­sion to a pre­vi­ously anony­mous Jeff Horn, was still pour­ing in on so­cial me­dia.

The 29-year-old Horn, a for­mer school­teacher who was given al­most no hope of beat­ing the 11-time world cham­pion, was feted by fans and politi­cians in his home­town yes­ter­day and didn’t care too much about the crit­i­cism – which started on Sun­day soon af­ter the Bat­tle of Bris­bane.

“There will al­ways be a back­lash where peo­ple say I got lucky, or what­ever. There will al­ways be the naysay­ers say­ing I didn’t win the fight, but I felt like I won the fight,” Horn, now un­beaten in his 18 fights since turn­ing pro­fes­sional in 2013, said as he basked in his vic­tory. “Ev­ery­one has a right to their opin­ion. I’m sure I’ve (gained) a lot more fans over there, than I’ve lost.”

Pac­quiao skipped the for­mal post-fight news con­fer­ence, his camp say­ing he needed to get seven stitches in each of the cuts on the top of his head, and also de­clined other in­ter­views in the dress­ing room.

Some crit­ics de­scribed the re­sult as a rob­bery and ques­tioned the in­tegrity of the sport.

Im­me­di­ately af­ter the fight, Pac­quiao said he had to re­spect the de­ci­sion and noted that he had a clause for a re­match, but he later told a Philip­pines news chan­nel that he’d been con­fi­dent he’d won the fight.

His train­ers were crit­i­cal of the ref­eree for not pe­nal­is­ing head clashes and neck holds. And they high­lighted sta­tis­tics that showed Pac­quiao threw twice as many punches.

In an in­ter­view with news chan­nel ABS-CBN, Pac­quiao thanked some high-pro­file sup­port­ers for let­ting their feel­ings be known.

“Thank you for the sup­port and for also be­liev­ing that I won the fight,” he said. “I’m pray­ing that it will not af­fect or ruin the box­ing in­dus­try.”

Re­ports emerged that a gov­ern­ment de­part­ment in the Philip­pines wanted the WBO to launch an in­quiry into the out­come.

All three judges awarded the fight to Horn, with Amer­i­can Waleska Roldan’s 117-111 score at­tract­ing most of the crit­i­cism. US judge Chris Flores and Ra­mon Cer­dan of Ar­gentina each scored it much closer at 115-113.

Top Rank pro­mo­tor, Bob Arum, said it was a “close fight. It could have gone ei­ther way.”

“A cou­ple of close rounds, but you can’t ar­gue with the re­sult,” he said af­ter the fight. “I scored a lot of the early rounds for Jeff. Then I had Manny com­ing back in the mid­dle. The 12th round, Jeff re­ally won. If you give Manny the 11th, you have draw. You give Jeff the 11th, it’s 7-5.”

The 38-year-old Pac­quiao had a chance to knock Horn out in the ninth, with the Aussie on the ropes and in big trou­ble in front of the 51 052 fans at Sun­corp Sta­dium, but couldn’t com­plete the job.

His own han­dlers agreed that had a bear­ing on the fight.

As he min­gled with fans yes­ter­day, his right eye still closed, Horn said he hadn’t paid a lot of at­ten­tion to the crit­i­cism.

“(Pac­quiao) is an ab­so­lute war­rior, a leg­end of the sport. He might have come un­der­done in this fight, I don’t know,” Horn said. “I guess if we have a re­match and he put his all in, he might come in bet­ter, I don’t know.”

One thing the fight has done, is en­sure Horn will have a big­ger pro­file be­fore his next fight, whether that be a re­match with Pac­quiao – now 59-7-2 and with three losses in his last eight fights – or not.

Pac­quiao was back in the Philip­pines yes­ter­day and had a mil­i­tary guard of hon­our to wel­come him back. A unan­i­mous points de­ci­sion wasn’t what any­one had been ex­pect­ing.

“It was, I guess, the ‘Manny Show’. I can re­mem­ber watch­ing pro­grams say­ing the (Pac­quiao) fight in Bris­bane – my name wasn’t nor­mally men­tioned,” Horn said. “But now, hope­fully, I’m a bit more recog­nised and I’ve es­tab­lished my­self in the box­ing com­mu­nity a bit more.” – AP

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