Manny Pacquiao is finished as a professional fighter – at least on a competitive scale.
Jeff Horn fought tooth and nail, more so than anyone expected, and ended up stealing the WBO World welterweight title from the Filipino, who found himself on the raw end of a controversial decision yet again.
Although it was not the obvious robbery that was Pacquiao-Bradley I in 2012, many thought the former eight-division world champion had done just enough to earn the victory. Alas, no cigar. Judges Chris Flores and Ramon Cerdan scored the bout 115-113 each, while Waleska Roland had it wide for Horn with a 117-111 score. This scribe saw the contest 116-111 in favor of Pacquiao, a score in line with the majority of viewers.
There is no doubt that Horn greatly exceeded expectations. However, Compubox statistics show the Aussie was not exactly precise either, landing just 92 of 625 punches, while Pacquiao connected on 182 of 573.
Many believe Horn was tailor-made for Pacquiao to KO in order to set up another big money fight down the line. That failed to come to fruition, although Pacman had his chance in the ninth round, but could not muster enough energy to derail Horn, whose unbelievable heart and determination kept him in the fight.
Although Pacquiao appeared to have done enough to win, he was not at his best – far from it. The blazing speed and power that once erected him on a pedestal just 10 years ago are long gone. The last time Pacquiao scored a knockout victory was in the fall of 2009 against former champion Miguel Cotto. Since then, he’s had dominant victories. In recent fights, he’s knocked down Jessie Vargas, Timothy Bradley (X2), and Chris Algieri (X6), but the killer instinct and the aggressiveness that connected him with the hit song “The Eye of the Tiger’ has mellowed out.
Albeit Horn was very physical and dirty throughout the fight; he landed elbows, rabbit punches, forearms, and repeatedly shoved his opponent’s head down in the clinch, Pacquiao failed to capitalize on a number of openings that he would have exploited in his prime. His timing was off and more so than in recent fights. It was a combination of Horn’s awkward style and Pacquiao just unable to pull the trigger at the age of 38.
Pacquiao is one of the greatest fighters who has ever lived and is a future Hall of Famer, but like everyone else; he’s human. There is no reason to have shame.
Although Pacquiao could return, defeat Jeff Horn and retire from the sport on top, it might come back to bite him. What if he still thinks he can compete with top fighters like Errol Spence, Keith Thurman, and Terence Crawford after beating Horn in the rematch?
Muhammad Ali returned to avenge his defeat against Leon Spinks, but he kept on fighting, and eventually was annihilated in one-sided fights against Larry Holmes and Trevor Berbick.
It is a tough call. Although none of us know what Pacquiao’s next step will be, we all know he has nothing else much to gain from fighting.