By Chris Williams: WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn is already planning a backup plan by targeting IBF 147 pound champion Errol Spence if the rematch with Manny Pacquiao fails to take place. Horn, 29, whipped Pacquiao last month in defeating him by a 12 round unanimous decision on July 2 at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia. Pacquiao said that he’s interested in fighting Horn (17-0-1, 11 KOs) again, but thus far nothing has happened.
”Errol Spence: Lets fight, let’s unify, there will be a man down #teamhorn #qlder #boxing,” said Horn on Monday on his Instagram account.
This would an excellent stay busy fight for Spence to use to keep him busy while he waits for Keith “One Time” Thurman to stop licking his wounds from his fight against Danny Garcia. Horn’s straight ahead ramming style of fighting would be perfect for a guy like Spence.
Horn likes to lower his head and charge his opponents like Billy Goat. He got away with that sloppy style of fighting against Pacquiao last July, mainly because Pacquiao doesn’t possess an uppercut in his arsenal of punches. But if Horn tries that tactic against Spence, he’s going to get nailed by one of his big uppercuts and it’s going to be game over for him. Horn is tailor-made for Spence his ramming style of fighting. I like the courage of Horn if he’s serious about wanting to fight Spence.
I don’t think for a second that Horn is going to win this fight, but I do like the courage he’s showing. I thought for sure that once Horn got his mitts on the WBO title, he’d milk that baby for all it was worth against the soft opposition the WBO has ranked in their top 15. Horn hasn’t called out Shawn Porter yet. That would be a good fight too. I guess Porter’s two losses to Kell Brook and Keith Thurman has caused his career to lose some of the shine that it once had.
What makes me think that Arum won’t let Horn fight a talent like Spence is that I think he’s likely going to keep Horn and his WBO belt in the deep freeze until the Top Rank promoted Terence Crawford moves up in weight to the welterweight division. That’s the guy that Arum is making a big push to turn into a star in boxing. If Arum can keep Horn fighting safe opponents until Crawford moves up, then the WBO title will likely stay in the family in getting passed from Horn to Crawford. Arum would then have Crawford milk the WBO title against soft opposition or against Top Rank fighters.
If Spence gets the WBO title, then it would be almost impossible for Crawford to win the belt. Crawford is too thin boned in my opinion for him to beat a guy like Spence. Crawford wouldn’t be able to stay on the outside and win in a jab war, because Spence is taller than him with a similar reach. If Crawford takes it to the inside, he’d be battered to pieces by the powerful body shots from Spence. It would be a mismatch. Spence is the sturdier fighter, and the much heavier guy. Crawford would be too thin and weak to dominate at welterweight like he’d been doing against the guys that Arum has been putting in the ring with him at 140.
While Horn is fresh in the first two or three rounds, he might give Spence problems with his charging attacks. I don’t think Spence has ever fought anyone with that kind of fighting style. Spence would likely be head-butted a number of times before he figured out how to defeat the football style attacks from Horn. Once Spence times Horn, he fight would be over for all intents and purposes. Horn would charge into an uppercut and end up on the canvas in the same way that Leonard Bundu was in his 6th round knockout loss to Spence in 2016. Bundu was trying to mug Spence with darting attacks, and he gave him problems for the first 5 rounds. Once Spence realized what Bundu was doing, he timed him and dropped him with an uppercut to the head. The referee didn’t count the first knockdown. But moments later, Spence flattened Bundu with another big shot to the head. The referee had no choice but to stop the fight at that point, because Bundu was not getting up for a long, long time.
Horn had a lot of problems just dealing with the over-the-hill Pacquiao. The Filipino star would have won that fight if he’d continue to batter Horn like he did in round 9. I must admit that Pacquiao had Horn within an eyelash of a knockout in the 9th. I lost track of how many times Pacquiao clobbered Horn with his left hand in the 9th. Horn’s face was a bloody mask. After the round was over, you could seem purple bruising all over Horn’s face. He was in bad shape. I still don’t know why Pacquiao didn’t empty his tank in the 10th round. All he would have had to do was hit Horn continuously with left hands for another 30 seconds, and he likely would have had him out. I doubt the referee would have done anything to stop the contest, because the only thing he was doing was standing around and watching. It wouldn’t have mattered though. Horn was ready to be knocked out. He couldn’t have taken too much more of a beating without hitting the deck. Horn was staggering in the 9th. If Spence is the one that’s landing those shots, he’s not going to ease off on Horn the way that Pacquiao did. I don’t know what got into Pacquiao’s head for him not to finish Horn off.
I didn’t see a sense of urgency from Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach in between rounds. He was too calm about Pacquiao letting the fight slip away. I think there’s such a thing as trainers that lose their edge just like fighters. Roach looked like a trainer that was over-the-hill in the Pacquiao-Horn fight. I did not like the way that Roach worked the fight. If it had been me in Pacquiao’s trainer, I would have been marking instructions at him, and I would have had him repeating them to me to make sure he understood what I was saying. I would have had Buboy Fernandez sitting in the stands and not getting in my way as I gave Pacquiao instructions. There were too many people talking in Pacquiao’s corner in between rounds. It was like chaos. I don’t know how Roach put up with that.
I seriously doubt that Horn is really on the level about wanting to fight Spence in a unification fight. I don’t buy this at all. I see his as a ploy by Horn to get Pacquiao to hurry up and negotiate the rematch so that he can make sure the aging Filipino star doesn’t drift into retirement without fighting him again. What better way to get Pacquiao to take the rematch then to see himself being replaced by Spence. If Spence turns around and whips Horn, then it’ll make Pacquiao look doubly bad that he wasn’t the one that gave the Australian fighter his first defeat. If Horn is serious about wanting to fight, then I give him a lot of credit and respect. He’d be taking a big risk in fighting Spence. But at the same time, if Horn can beat Spence, it would be a huge positive for his boxing career. Horn would be a two belt champion at welterweight, and he could take those two titles and face WBA/WBC welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman in a big unification fight for all the marbles. The fans would really like to see that.
Pacquiao taking his time making up his mind about whether to continue his boxing career is a bad sign. It suggests that he might not be mentally into the sport enough for him to want to continue. If Pacquiao retires, which is a very real possibility, then Horn has already let Spence know that he would like to fight him. Horn’s promoter Bob Arum could try and build him in the U.S by staging a unification fight between him and Spence in New York or Las Vegas. I still don’t see the 86-year-old Arum making the fight between Horn and Spence. Arum would likely lose out on the WBO belt that Top Rank fighters have hand stranglehold on since 2005.
The WBO welterweight title has been part of the Top Rank family for 12 years minimum. It might even back further than that. I stopped tracking at 2005. I was shocked at how many Top Rank fighters have had the WBO belt, one after another. If Arum matches Horn against Spence, there will be a very good chance that Horn will lose his WBO strap. In this case, I believe that Spence will definitely pay the sanctioning fees to keep the WBO title. Floyd Mayweather Jr. snatched the WBO tile off the Top Rank promoted Pacquiao in 2015. But because Mayweather didn’t pay the sanctioning fee, the WBO stripped him of his title. Spence would be looking to keep the WBO title so that he could use it as a way of luring the top contenders like Danny Garcia into fighting him. Goodness knows, winning the IBF title has done nothing for Spence in helping him get a fight against Danny Garcia.
Having one title isn’t enough for Spence to get a big name lie Danny Garcia. I don’t know if winning two welterweight titles will be enough either. Spence might need to win 3 of the 4 welterweight titles to get Garcia to fight him. The same goes for getting guys like Mikey Garcia to fight Spence. He’s going to need to have most of the titles at 147 for him to get Mikey to move up and risk his hide in fighting him.
Spence has the punching power to take the judges out of the equation in a fight against Horn. They could stick that fight in Brisbane, Australia and Spence is going to be looking to make sure the fight doesn’t go to the scorecards. Spence isn’t going to let the judges have a say so in the final results of a fight against Horn.
It sounds to be like Horn doesn’t quite believe that Pacquiao, 38, will take the rematch with him. Pacquiao could change his mind and choose to play it safe by retiring from boxing and continuing his career as a senator in the Philippines. Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach has already said that he thinks he’s no longer an elite fighter at this point in his career. All the time that Pacquiao spends as a senator is keeping him from being able to devote to his boxing training.
Pacquiao’s political career is likely hurting him more by occupying time he would have used on his conditioning by playing basketball. Pacquiao’s stamina during the Horn fight looked like it wasn’t there compared to how he fought in his third fight against Tim Bradley last year. Pacquiao hadn’t been in the job as a senator for that long when he took the fight with Bradley last year. But now that Pacquiao has been in the senator for close to 2 years, it looks like his stamina is not what it once was.
Spence, 5’9 ½”, has the size and the power to deal with Horn’s rough style of fighting. If Horn chooses to take the fight into the gutter against Spence, we could see a real war on the inside. I don’t think it would bode well for Horn, 5’9”, to try and rough up Spence, because he’s got the size and the power to beat him at his own game. At 5’6” ½”, Manny Pacquiao was too small to deal with Horn’s roughhouse tactics. He needed the referee to help him, but that didn’t happen. The referee was just hanging out during the Pacquiao-Horn fight without doing anything to control the fouling.
If Spence can beat Horn to win his World Boxing Organization title, it would be a big plus for his career. There would be a lot of money for Spence in fighting Horn. A rematch between them would be a big deal in Australia. Moving on from a fight with Horn to battles against Thurman and Danny Garcia would be tremendous for Spence. He would have a chance of beating two of the best fighters in the 147lb division. Beating those guys would leave only Shawn Porter and Manny Pacquiao for Spence to still fight. Mikey Garcia and Terence Crawford are expected to make the move up to 147 before long.
Spence (22-0, 19 KOs) has been busy calling out former 2 division world champion Danny Garcia, and talking about wanting to fight WBA/WBC welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman in a unification fight. Danny Garcia has not shown the slightest amount of interest in getting inside the ring with the 27-year-old Spence. That fight probably won’t happen until Horn beats Thurman to win his WBA and WBC titles. Once Spence is the only game in town with him holding 3 of the 4 titles, then Garcia will likely face him. That would be a nice fight between Mikey and Spence. I hope Mikey is willing to take that risk in the future rather than staying content to fight guys lighter than himself at lightweight.