Monday, July 3, 2017

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Jeff Horn (left) trades blows with Manny Pacquiao in their WBO world welterweight title match at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia on Sunday, July 2. DAVE HUNT / EPA

 MANILA – Jeff Horn banked on his bag of tricks to take the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight belt away from Manny Pacquiao via unanimous decision on Sunday at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia.

Horn turned the match into a brawl with headlocks, clinches, elbows to the head, and numerous head-butts to capture his first-ever world championship 115-113, 115-113, 117-111.

Horn showed his aggressiveness early on with his right straights and clinches but Pacquiao was able to keep in step in the next rounds with his own attacks, including one that opened a cut on Horn in the third.

An accidental clash of heads in the seventh round opened a huge cut on the left side of Pacquiao’s head. A similar situation in the eighth round also injured the right side of the Filipino ring icon’s head.

Pacquiao managed to floor Horn in the eighth round but referee Mark Nelson ruled it as a slip. The Filipino nearly floored the Brisbane native anew in the ninth but the latter prevented a knockdown by hanging on to Pacquiao’s head.

Horn bounced back in the 10th round with counterattacks after Nelson threatened the Australian corner before the start of the round that he will stop the bout if Horn did not “show me something.”

Pacquiao and Horn appeared tired and exhausted in the 11th and 12th but managed entertaining exchanges until the final bell.

Horn admitted getting hurt by Pacquiao’s punches, especially in the ninth.

“I guess it’s the crowd behind me and all the support,” he said. “I was buzzed after the ninth round but I’m not a quitter. Australians aren’t quitters to start with. We’ve showed we’re winners.”

“I’m sure he’ll want to come back. It was a close decision, and I’m sure he’ll want to come back and prove himself,” Horn added. “It was part of the contract, so I am open to it.”

For his part, Pacquiao said he was not expecting Horn’s toughness.

“I didn’t expect his toughness. I tried knocking him out in round nine but he survived,” Pacquiao said. “He deserved the victory. That’s the decision of the judges and I respect that.”

In a post-fight news conference, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum confirmed the rematch clause in the deal but said he would give it time before talking to Pacquiao about it.

“I know Jeff would welcome the rematch, but I don’t know Manny’s future position,” Arum said. “Is he going to stay in politics and not continue boxing? I don’t know, and he doesn’t know now. It’s unfair to ask him now.”

Horn, 29, kept his record unblemished 17-0-1. Pacquiao, 38, slipped to a 59-7-2 slate./PN


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