FIGHTING SENATOR Manny Pacquiao and Austrialia’s Jeff Horn before and during their bloody fight which stunned the sporting world. (Photos by Wendell Alinea)
BRISBANE/GENERAL SANTOS CITY (PhilAmPress) – Filipino boxing icon and Philippine Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao lost his World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight belt to unheralded Austrialian boxer Jeff Horn in their fight dubbed “Battle of Brisbane” in the full-packed Suncorp Arena on July 2.
Three judges, two of them Americans, gave a unanimous decision for Horn’s victory which Pacquiao accepted magnanimously at the ring but which later became controversial as boxing experts, analysts, National Basketball Association (NBA) stars and celebrities assailed it while many went out in interviews and on social media saying Pacquiao clearly won the fight.
“That’s the decision of the judges, I respect that,” Pacquiao said in the ring after their fight, the results of which shocked the sporting world. .
Despite his defeat, his seventh in 67 professional bouts, Malacanang, Senators, congressmen and many Filipinos hailed Pacquiao, adding he remains a “national treasure in global sports.”
“Manny Pacquiao’s loss in Brisbane would not diminish the honors he bestowed to the people and to the flag,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement right after the fight.
“Nothing will change: Senator Manny Pacquaio will remain our People’s Champ, Pambansang Kamao, and National Treasure in Global Sports,” Abella stressed as he thanked Filipinos for supporting the boxing icon after his defeat.
“Nagpapasalamat ang Palasyo sa hindi matatawarang suportang ipinagkaloob kay Manny Pacquaio ng ating mga kababayan sa oras ng tagumpay at maging sa panahon ng pagkabigo,” he said.
“Taas-noo lang (Hold your head up), Sen. Manny. You fought a good fight. Win or lose, Filipinos will always be proud of you, of what you have done for sports and the whole country,” Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara said in a statement.
“In victory and in defeat, we have celebrated and cried with you. We are proud of you, Sen. Pacquiao!” he added.
Sen. Nancy Binay said Pacquiao, 38, showed the world that he could still fight against Horn, 29 or younger by nine years and that he was “graceful in defeat.”
“Manny showed us that we remain graceful in defeat, never losing hope, and striving to get back up on our feet against adversity,” Binay said in a statement.
Sen. Cynthia Villar lauded Pacquiao’s for his passion for the sport noting that his feat as one of the greatest boxers would be difficult to replicate.
“…The fact remains that Pacquiao’s feat as the greatest boxer of our time will be very hard to replicate. In the heart of many Filipinos, Pacquiao is a true champion who has given so much honor and pride to Filipinos around the world,” Villar said in a statement.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto II and senators Joseph Victor Ejercito and Sherwin Gatchalian, however, disagreed with the results of the Pacquiao-Horn bout.
“Two head butts no deduction. Two words are trending ‘robbed and rigged,’” Sotto said on his official Twitter account.
Ejercito said that he found the “unanimous decision” vague. The judges scored the fight 117-111, 115-113 and 115-113.
“What? Unanimous decision? Labo ah! (That’s vague!) Whatever the result is, no other Filipino in the modern era has given the Philippines so much honor,” Ejercito said.
Gatchalian said that for him, Pacquiao was the “clear winner.”
“In my scorecard, Manny is the clear winner. He was decisive and strategic with his punches. Puro head lock lang ginawa ni Horn (Horn did mostly head locks),” Gatchalian said.
Pacquiao’s loss made dim the chances of enticing undefeated American champion out of retirement to fight the Filipino, the only boxer in the world to tuck in eight division championship belts, as calls for him to now hang his gloves became louder.
Pacquiao has now two options, according to analysts, and these are to retire or honor the rematch clause in his contract with the now WBO champion Jeff Horn.
Despite his loss, Pacquiao stood to gain $10 million in the fight while Horn had a guaranteed prize of $500,000. In case, a rematch takes place, Horn’s prize will be raised to $2 million.
After the fight, Pacquiao, supported by his team, declared that he believed he won the fight although in the judges eyes it was Horn who was the victor.
“For me, we won the fight,” Pacquiao told reporters in Brisbane, Australia. “It’s clear naman, kahit i-review mo ang fight.”
“Rerespetuhin ko na lang,” he said. “Kahit magsasalita ako doon, tapos na ‘yung resulta.”
However, he stressed that he believes he won the bout, and that he was not hurt even when Horn repeatedly drove him to the ropes and unleashed a flurry of punches on him during the early rounds.
“Actually, blocked naman ‘yun. Kahit ire-review mo ‘yung tama, ‘yung mga suntok niya sa katawan, blocked ko lahat ‘yun,” he said.
CompuBox, a statistics provider for all major boxing events, showed Pacquiao outlanded Horn, 182-92, and it has Pacquiao as the more accurate hitter, landing 182 of the 573 total punches he threw for a connect rate of 32 percent.
While Horn was the busier fighter, he was less effective, with only 92 of his 625 punches finding their mark for a 15 percent rate.
That translates to Pacquiao hitting Horn with twice the number of punches the Australian landed on the Filipino icon during their 12-round duel.
Pacquiao was likewise the better jabber, with 59 of 193 jabs landing (31 percent), while Horn connecting on only 19 of 197 (10 percent).
In the power punching department, Pacquiao again bested Horn, going 123-of-380 for a 32 percent rate. The Australian, for his part, landed only 73 of 438 power blows.
The discrepancy in punches definitely showed on Horn’s battle-scarred face.
But Pacquiao failed to get the nod of the three judges who awarded the fight to Horn, 117-111, 115-113 and 115-113.
Among the first to assail the judges’ decision was American boxing trainer and analyst Teddy Atlas Jr. who did not even hide his frustration over the decision as he told Horn personally that he tought he lost the fight.
Atlas spoke his mind when interviewing Horn as the Australian had the WBO belt strapped on his left arm.
“Congratulations, good effort, but I thought you lost,” said Atlas. “This guy [Pacquiao] was landing the punches, you were throwing a lot but were missing a lot. But you showed great heart, the heart of a champion, no doubt about that.”
“Do you feel after that ninth round, a very difficult round, after that round was almost stopped, you heard the words of the referee ‘I’m going to stop this fight if you can’t do something’ and your own corner told you that.”
After Pacquiao subjected Horn to a furious beating in the ninth round, referee Mark Nelson approached the Australian in the corner and told him he’ll stop the fight if the punishment continues.
Atlas and almost all of the boxing world were shocked with the judges decision.
Atlas, who scored the bout 117-111, furthered his rant in SportsCenter after game.
“It’s a corrupt sport. I’ve been in the sport 45 years. I’m sorry,” he said. “What else could it be? Corruption.”
“They gave a trophy, a win, a huge win to Horn the local kid for trying hard,” said Atlas. “You’re not supposed to get it for trying hard. You’re supposed to get it for winning and I thought Pacquiao won the fight if you go by the rules, the real rules.”
And for Atlas, whoever “lands the cleaner punches” should be crowned the victor.
The punch stats showed clear advantages for Pacquiao, both in terms of hits and the percentage.
Several international and local sports personalities and celebrities said they believe Manny Pacquiao is the true winner of the WBO welterweight bout against Jeff Horn..
Sports journalists, basketball stars players, fellow professional boxers and even actors aired their sentiments on Twitter after the decision hailing Horn was called. They claimed that Pacquiao got robbed in his opponent’s home country, Australia.
Shortly after controversial decision was made, Kobe Bryant posted a GIF showing a shocked close-up of rapper and actor Ice Cube on Twitter that has been retweeted and liked for over 30,000 times as of posting. Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves also had the eight-division champion’s back.
“Disrespected @mannypacquiao like he not a legend. #PacquiaoHorn.”
Sports writer Robert Flores of ESPN said the scores for the Pacquiao-Horn bout were “terrible.”
“Manny has been robbed twice and Timothy Bradley was there for both,” he wrote noting that Horn had “many sponsors than a NASCAR driver.”
“Manny Pacquaio got robbed… Ridiculous,” former American football tight end George Wrighster III said.
Pacquiaos fellow Filipino fighter Brian Viloria admitted the match was tight but disagreed with the decision.
“Close fight, but Pacquiao won that fight,” Viloria said. “I love the sport. But sometimes it kicks you in the teeth when you least expect it,” he added.
“Uhhhhhhh, can U Say Bulls**t??!!Manny got F****d!!! That’s the Face of a Winner??!” posted the award-winning actor Samuel L. Jackson on Twitter referring to Horn, whose face was swollen and had a cut above the right eye after taking a punch in the second round.
“Boxing is wack!!!! Pac-man got robbed again…This is why MMA is so big now..SMH,” said retired NBA player Chauncey Billups, who was the Finals MVP during the Detroit Pistons’ championship run in 2004.
“The referee was sketchy, the judges were crazy,” fumed Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune, who is a former Australian heavyweight champion.
“Manny lost the fight, but Jeff Horn looks like a pumpkin,” Fortune added, referring to Horn who finished the fight with a badly swollen face and needing stitches over his right eye.
“Those scores, that card? It should be the other way around,” said Fortune.
The result that caused dismay on social media among boxing and sporting greats.
“This is what’s wrong with boxing,” tweeted former undisputed world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis.
“Horn was very game but I’m hard pressed to see how he could have won that fight by any stretch!”
American football quarterback Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers was equally forthright.
“Boxing is a joke, and it proves it again tonight. Are you kidding me with those scorecards? #joke #rigged,” Rodgers said on Twitter.
NBA player Karl-Anthony Towns of Minnesota Timberwolves and retired NBA star of Los Angeles Lakers player, Kobe Bryant, as well as actor Samuel Jackson were disappointed over the fight.
Rapper LL Cool J who rooted for Pacquiao described him as “monster.” He, too, was shocked by the results.
“Wow!!!! Pac man got beat ?!?!?!” he said, adding that it was “robbery” in a series of tweets.
“Boxing needs to figure out a new way of judging these fights.. this pac man fight was a pure robbery,” he added.
Despite what she thought as an unfair decision, actress Maia Ocando praised Pacquiao for being gracious in accepting defeat.
Pacquiao did not stay long in Brisbane as he and his team took off for General Santos Monday morning following the fight
Pacquiao told a radio interview that his future in boxing – including a possible rematch against Horn – remains up in the air.
“Pag-uusapan pa ‘yan,” he said. “Pag-uusapan pa. Siguro, pahinga lang muna ngayon, tapos after a few weeks, saka pag-usapan.”
[We will discuss this sometime in the future. We’ll rest first, and after a few weeks, we can discuss it.]
If Pacquiao would have his way, however, he would prefer that the rematch be held in the Philippines.
Pacquiao’s wife Jinkee and mother Dionisia had asked the senator to retire from boxing. His trainer, Freddie Roach, and his promoter, Bob Arum also hinted that it may be time for the legendary boxer to hang up his gloves for good.
Pacquiao, however, said he has not decided on the matter. “‘Yan ay pag-iisipan natin. [We’ll think about it.],” he said.
Pacquiao said he believes he could have easily defeated Horn, if not for accidental head butts that left him bleeding, and the confusing performance of the referee.
“Kayang-kaya ko si Horn. Kayang-kaya ko ‘yun,” he stressed.
“Hindi ko maintindihan ang judges natin, at ang referee, hindi masyadong marunong. ‘Yung referee talaga, pinabayaan niya lang. Hindi experienced ang referee [I can beat him. I just did not understand the judges, and the referee did not know what he was doing. The referee was letting him do anything. He was not experienced.],” he said.
Baseball and NFL legend Deion Sanders said: “@mannypacquiao was robbed! I’m really upset right now. Really. This is ignorant. God bless u Manny and all u do for your country. #Truth.”
The fight statistics seemed to back the belief that Pacquiao had done more than enough to win.
Broadcaster ESPN said that Pacquiao had landed 182 punches to 82 from the challenger over the 12 rounds in front of more than 51,000 fans in Horn’s home town of Brisbane.
Fortune, who once fought against Lewis and has been with Pacquiao since 2002, said Horn had been allowed to get away with a host of illegal tactics as he brawled his way to victory.
“That’s what you get down here,” he said of the tactics.
“You’d never get away with that anywhere else in the world. You’d be penalised points.
“I don’t have a problem with dirty fighting and that’s what it was, a fight. You do what you have to to win.”