Australia’s Jeff Horn stunned Filipino Manny Pacquiao in a bloody Brisbane battle to claim a unanimous 12-round decision and win the WBO world welterweight title in front of 50,000 fans at Lang Park on Sunday.
The unheralded 29-year-old former schoolteacher, who improved his record to 17-0-1, was awarded the win over the eight-division world champion by scores of 117-111, 115-113 and 115-113.
“I’ve just believed since I was very young that I could do this,” Horn said in an interview, before welcoming the prospect of a rematch with Pacquiao.
Pacquiao was knocked off his stride by the aggression of the taller and heavier Australian in the early rounds but looked to have weathered the storm as the fight wore on and Horn tired.
With blood pouring from both sides of his forehead after accidental butts, the 38-year-old southpaw launched a fierce assault on Horn which nearly ended the contest in round nine.
The exhausted Australian, who was cut above his right eye in round two, battled gamely on through the final three rounds, though, to win a decision that would have surprised some given Pacquiao’s late dominance.
“Very tough. I didn’t expect that tough,” Pacquiao said. “It’s okay, it’s part of the game. That’s the decision of the judges, I respect that.”
Pacquiao, whose record now reads 59-7-2 and who had hoped for an impressive victory to fire talk of another fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr, said he would “absolutely” return for the contracted rematch against Horn.
An emotional Horn brandished a walking stick as he also called out the undefeated Mayweather, who has come out of retirement at 40 years of age for a 12-round crossover boxing match against mixed martial arts champion Conor McGregor.
“This is no joke, which one does he want? The walking stick or the gloves?” the Queenslander said.