It appeared as if Manny Pacquiao had it in the bag, but the judges’ shocking decision said otherwise. His fight against Jeff Horn on Sunday morning (local time) in Brisbane went the distance, and ended with Pacquiao turning it on in the later rounds, taking advantage of an exhausted and over-matched Horn — or so it seemed.
After taking a beating in the ninth round, the referee went into Horn’s corner and warned of stopping the fight if the Australian didn’t offer anything. Horn came out and answered the call in the 10th round, showing he had some left in the tank. But Pacquiao continued to be calculated and precise with his punches until the final bell sounded, and it seemed as if the defending champion was headed toward his third-straight victory since losing to Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Then the shocking announcement came, and Michael Buffer took the two fighters into the center of the ring and said something almost nobody was expecting after watching the thrilling 12-round fight: “The winner by unanimous decision, and new WBD Welterweight Champion of the world, Jeff “The Hornet” Horn.”
The sentence stunned everyone in attendance and sent the 55,000-plus Australian fans into an absolute frenzy.
Watch a video of the shocking announcement below:
There was good reason for the disbelief. Pacquiao dominated the fight, landing 32 percent of his punches compared to Horn’s 15 percent. That’s 182 out of 573 punches thrown to Horn’s 92 landed out of 625.
Despite the stats, judges said that Horn bested Pacquiao via a unanimous decision.
Understandably so, the announcing team was in disbelief, and Teddy Atlas had a few choice words for the judges who made the decision.
Horn impressed many with his performance in the fight, which was televised in the United States on ESPN. From the opening bell, he closed in on Pacquaio and let him have it and didn’t really let up. Though the missed punches continued to pile up and tire Horn, prompting Pacquiao to seize the opportunity and bloody Horn with a series of power punches and jabs.
But the three judges thought that Horn’s consistent energy outweighed Pacquiao’s fight performance.
Horn was the overwhelming underdog (+450) in the fight and improved his undefeated record to 17-0-1 while Pacquiao (59-7-2) was on the wrong end of just his seventh fight.
After the fight, Pacquaio said that he would come back to Australia for a re-match while Horn had loftier goals. During his post-match interview, the 29-year-old Horn called out Floyd Mayweather.
Back at ESPN headquarters, Stephen A. Smith certainly let the judges have it.