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Pacquiao could face Jeff Horn in 2017

Manny Pacquiao

By Chris Williams: Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is talking about potentially putting unbeaten #2 IBF, #2 WBO , #13 WBA, #13 WBC Jeff Horn (15-0-1, 10 KOs) in with his fighter WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) in the second half of 2017. Arum is now co-promoting the Australian Horn, as well as unbeaten #1 WBO heavyweight contender Joseph Parker.

Horn will be fighting Ali Fukeka (39-5-3, 31 KOs) in a 10 round fight on the undercard of the Parker vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. heavyweight clash this Saturday night at the Vector Arena in Auckland, Australia.

It would be good news for Jeff Horn’s fans if he can get a big fight against Pacquiao. Horn hasn’t really done anything to rate a fight against Pacquiao other than beat a small handful of lesser fighters.

If Horn beats Funeka without any problems, Arum wants to then match Horn against either Tim Bradley or Jessie Vargas in early 2017. If Horn wins that fight, then Arum would match him against the 38-year-old Pacquiao in late 2017. There are a lot of ifs involved in Horn getting a crack at Pacquiao though.

Having seen Horn’s recent fight against Rico Mueller last October, he seems to be fairly head-handed. He reminds me of a taller version of Diego Chaves. Bradley had a lot of problems with Chaves in fighting to a 12 round draw against him in 2014. If Horn can put pressure on Bradley in the same way that Chaves did, then he should be able to beat him unless the judges go with the better known Bradley.

Horn might want to make sure he takes the fight out of the judges’ hands if he fights Bradley. Vargas would be the easier option for Horn, because he fancies himself as a puncher nowadays, but he clearly is not. If Vargas tries to slug with Horn, it might make the fight a lot easier than it would normally be. Vargas might get hurt if he tries to punch with the 5’9” Horn, because he doesn’t have the kind of power that would enable him to stand in there with him.

Arum said this to about a fight between Horn and Pacquiao:

“Manny has told me that he wants two fights next year and we are looking at Jeff for the second bout,” said Arum. “If Jeff can win well on Saturday night I would then like him to face one of my former world champs, either Timothy Bradley or Jessie Vargas to build up the bout. I have heard great things about Jeff and we want to see on Saturday if he is ready for the best in the division or if he still needs a little seasoning.’’

Having Horn go through Bradley or Vargas in order to earn a fight against Pacquiao will be a tough task for the inexperienced Horn. He’s not fought anyone good since he turned pro in 2013 after competing in the 2012 Olympics for Australia. Horn did defeat 42-year-old former two division world champion Randall Bailey in April of this year in stopping him in the 7th round. Horn was knocked down in the 3rd round by Bailey, but he came back to get the stoppage in the 7th. Horn also beat Ahmed El Mousaoui and Rico Mueller. Those guys aren’t major players in the welterweight division, but it was still good that Horn got the wins over them both.

Pacquiao recently defeated WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas by a 12 round unanimous decision last November to win his WBO title last November on Top Rank pay-per-view at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Pacquiao won the fight by the scores 118-109, 118-108 and 114-113.

“I took up boxing just for self-defence and I didn’t even know if I would ever get to meet someone like Bob Arum,” said Horn. “Now here we are talking about me fighting one of the greatest boxers of all time. I want to win big,’’ said Horn.

Getting a fight against Pacquiao would be a dream come true for Horn, especially with his limited resume. However, it sounds like Arum wants Horn to earn the fight against Pacquiao by beating Bradley or Vargas. Frankly, I’m surprised that Arum didn’t bring up WBC/WBO light welterweight champion Terence Crawford as someone else that Horn would potentially have to beat in order to get a fight against Pacquiao. Arum isn’t making it easy at all for Horn. If he gets a title shot against Pacquiao, he’ll have earned the shot.

As bad as Pacquiao looked against Vargas in his last fight, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he lost to Horn. That would be a potentially tougher fight for Pacquiao than his recent match against Vargas, because Horn is a bigger puncher than anyone he’s faced in a while.

I suspect that if Horn destroys Funeka and Bradley or Vargas, Pacquiao will go in another direction next year rather than taking the fight with him. If Horn looks really good in winning his next two fights, I don’t think for a second that he’ll get the Pacquiao fight. it would be like Arum giving Errol Spence Jr. a shot at Pacquiao. That’s just not going to happen. Spence is too good, and it would be a nightmarish bout for the Filipino star. The boxing fans would like to see Pacquiao fight Spence, but I think it would end badly for Pacquiao. Arum would then likely need to find a new PPV money guy to take Pacquiao’s place as Top Rank’s PPV attraction.

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