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Time running out on Horn


PhilBoxing.com




A week ago, it was announced that the Queensland government was ready to put serious money on the table in bringing WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao?s next fight to Brisbane on April 23 against unbeaten Australian contender Jeff Horn.

But at presstime, there was still no confirmation from Pacquiao?s camp that the fight will push through at the 52,500-seat Suncorp Stadium. Queensland tourism minister Kate Jones was quoted in media as estimating a revenue windfall of $200 Million for the state economy in the event Pacquiao agrees to the deal.

To be sure, Pacquiao isn?t involved in the negotiations. His adviser Mike Koncz is on top of things and his priority is to make the fight worth the trouble for Pacquiao. Koncz said he serves only one boss, Pacquiao, and it?s the Senator?s interest that he?s pledged to protect. At one point, it was reported that Pacquiao wouldn?t accept less than a $20 Million guarantee for his next bout. That?s quite a drop from the $150 Million he reportedly pocketed in the Floyd Mayweather fight in 2015 but it?s an upgrade from his purse of between $4 to $6 Million for dethroning Jessie Vargas last November.

The scuttlebutt is the Australian group initially offered a guarantee of $5 Million. It has since been brought up to $7 Million. For Koncz, that?s not enough to put Pacquiao back into rigorous training in the gym. Pacquiao isn?t in a hurry to sign up. He?s immersed in work at the Senate and that?s his preoccupation at the moment. Once a deal for a fight is confirmed, he?ll begin those brutal workouts after the Senate sessions early evening every day for two months.

But time?s running out on the Australians. Pacquiao usually sets aside two months to train for a fight and if his next match is in Brisbane, he?ll do his workouts exclusively in Manila as it makes no sense to go all the way to Los Angeles. That means moving trainer Freddie Roach to Manila for two months up to the fight. It?s now early February so if Pacquiao?s lead time for training is two months, the deal has to be made within the next week.
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Over dinner at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel recently, Pacquiao hinted that his next fight will be in Dubai. He didn?t mention who?s likely to face him in the opposite corner. Pacquiao said he?s never watched Horn in action and the only thing he knows about the Australian is he?s unbeaten. Of course, that doesn?t faze Pacquiao who?s repulsed eight undefeated fighters in his career. The list includes Chris Algieri, Timothy Bradley, Jorge Solis, Emmanuel Lucero, Nedal Hussein and Seung Kon Chae. The tougher his opponents, the better Pacquiao likes it.

Horn, who turned 29 yesterday, is banking on the Queensland government to come across. His second cousin happens to be Queensland Lord Mayor Graham Quirk. A former schoolteacher with an education degree, Horn made it to the quarterfinals at the 2012 London Olympics and is touted as Australia?s best fighter since the legendary Jeff Fenech. However, his inexperience is glaring with only 17 fights compared to Pacquiao?s 67.

Pacquiao, 38, said once he plunges back into training, it won?t be long before he gets himself into razor-sharp shape. If the Horn fight materializes, it will be set at the welterweight limit of 147 as Pacquiao will defend his WBO crown. Pacquiao said making weight will be a breeze since even when out of hard training, he never scales more than 150. In fact, if there?s a juicy offer to fight in the lightwelterweight division, Pacquiao could easily drop down to 140.

Pacquiao said he?s hoping to fight at the Philippine Arena, perhaps in November. That would be a treat for Filipino fans since Pacquiao hasn?t seen action in the country since outpointing Mexico?s Oscar Larios at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in 2006. Pacquiao has fought his last 20 outings thrice in Texas, twice in Macau and the rest in Las Vegas. He thought of a fifth encounter with Mexico?s Juan Manuel Marquez as a crowd drawer for the Philippine Arena.
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But Marquez recently doused cold water on speculation that he would come back for another duel with Pacquiao. ?There are rumors on the networks that I have been offered $60 Million to again fight Manny Pacquiao but even if they give me $100 Million, I will not fight him,? said Marquez who?s now 43. ?I?m still training and I?m always running. I know I?ve been out for almost two years. This year, definitely, I think I?ll do two fights to assess how my body reacts. Passing those two tests, I would have another important fight. But first, I have to talk to my family. If my family tells me, I?ll leaving boxing My family is now my priority.?

Marquez? pronouncements seem to contradict what he said last year, that he?s looking for one big retirement fight and the word from his camp was it would be against Pacquiao. There?s no other fighter who can bring the kind of money that Marquez wants for a swan song. After all, the last two Pacquiao-Marquez fights brought in over a million pay-per-view hits. Their last battle was in 2012 when Marquez, almost out on his feet, dug deep to knock out Pacquiao with a single punch late in the sixth round. Pacquiao would like nothing better than to avenge that loss with his career coming close to an end.

As for receiving an offer for $60 Million to engage Pacquiao in a fifth war, Marquez must be dreaming. Even against Pacquiao, he?ll be lucky to get $10 Million. Whatever it was that juiced up Marquez in knocking out Pacquiao must have affected his brain. Marquez is now trained by Nacho Beristain and conditioning guru Angel (Memo) Heredia.

How much longer Pacquiao intends to fight is up in the air. Asked if he plans to box beyond this year, Pacquiao only smiled. What?s top of mind for Pacquiao lately is establishing a new government agency, the Philippine Boxing Commission (PBC), which he?s pushing to set up by law. He?s authored a bill to make it a reality with a P150 Million annual budget. The PBC will take away the supervision of boxing from the GAB and launch a betting system in coordination with PAGCOR similar to how it?s done in Las Vegas.

Pacquiao has a lot on his plate as Senator and unless Horn?s backers put something more meaningful on the table, he?ll turn to an option other than Australia. Dubai is an alternative but again, the question is what?s in it for Pacquiao?


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.


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