Although not the familiar high-profile setting common of his bouts, Manny Pacquiao has reached a plateau that wherever he fights his bouts remain an event.
Australian fight fans will enjoy such an experience on Saturday night. Pacquiao will defend his World Boxing Organization welterweight title against Jeff Horn in Horn’s native Australia.
The bout at the 55,000-seat Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane is expected to sell out.
“I’m excited to have the fight here in Australia,” Pacquaio said. “The most important thing is to discipline yourself and make sure you are 100 percent conditioned for the fight so we can entertain the people. Our main responsibility as boxers is to make the people happy.”
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Horn (16-0-1, 11 KOs) represented Australia in the 2012 Olympics and reached the quarterfinals, where he lost a decision against Ukraine’s Denys Berynchik. The 29-year-old Horn acknowledges the crucial step his career takes with the Pacquiao fight.
“People say he’s past [his prime], but he’s not past, he’s still the best of champions,” Horn said.
With his appearance in Australia, Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) continues a late career trend the eight-division world champion began when he fought Brandon Rios four years ago in 2013. The Philippines native defeated Rios in Macao, China, and made another ring appearance in the same venue against Chris Algieiri the following year.
Although the majority of his top fights have been in Las Vegas, Pacquiao, 38, at least expands his international presence. Meanwhile, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and lately Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, the sport’s other top pay-per-view attractions the past decade, refuse to depart from the Las Vegas surroundings.
“My biggest victories have been away from home,” Pacquiao said. “I have only had one fight in the Philippines since 2005, and it hasn’t hurt my career. The world was made to be explored, so explore it. I have fought in wonderful places in front of great fans in the U.S., Macau and now Brisbane.”
For Pacquiao, Saturday’s bout also signals a shift toward a wider TV viewing audience. Ever since Pacquiao’s ascension as one of the sport’s top fighters 15 years ago, HBO became the signature platform that televised his fights. However, the premium cable network passed on the Pacquiao-Horn bout.
Consequently, Pacquiao’s promotional company, Top Rank, reached a multi-fight date deal with ESPN to televise bouts beginning with the Pacquiao-Horn match.
“Manny Pacquiao has been one of the biggest global stars of his era, setting attendance and pay-per-view records for over the past decade,” Top Rank president Todd Du Boef said in a statement. “To have ESPN, which has treated its viewers to NFL, college football playoff and NBA playoff games, add Manny’s title fight to its roster is the biggest compliment one can give to Manny’s star power and great gift to sports fans.”
AROUND THE RING
Cutler Bay resident Jessy Cruz scored a third-round technical knockout over Angel Monrreal in a featherweight bout that headlined a show Saturday at the Deauville Hotel in Miami Beach.
In other bouts: Light-heavyweight James Rodriguez won a split decision over Robert Daniels Jr.; junior-middleweight John David Martinez scored a second-round TKO over Randy Hedderick; welterweight Chris Velez won by unanimous decision over Javier Garcia; cruiserweight Ulysses Diaz knocked out Rashad Jones in the first round; and Marcos Escudero scored a fourth-round TKO over Eric Abraham.
Tuesday (9 p.m., Fox Sports1): Miguel Cruz vs. Angel Martin, 10, welterweights.
Friday (10 p.m., ESPN2): Oscar Negrete vs. Sergio Frias, 10, bantamweights.
Saturday (9 p.m., ESPN): Manny Pacquiao vs. Jeff Horn, 12, for Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight title.