LOS ANGELES — Jeff Horn already felt confident he had won his bout with Manny Pacquiao, no matter what Filipino government officials or U.S. television commentators thought.
When an independent review this week affirmed the three ringside judges’ decision, the new WBO welterweight champion took the news as yet another victory.
“I feel like I’ve defended the title again already, and I’ve only had it for a week,” Horn said after arriving in California from his native Australia.
After claiming Pacquiao’s 147-pound title July 2 in a stunning upset, Horn would welcome the chance to leave no doubt in anybody’s mind in a second bout with Pacquiao.
“I kind of feel it’s been put to bed now that I definitely won the fight, because they re-scored it,” Horn said. “But people are always going to have their opinions, and you’re never going to change some of those. I guess the only way to do it is to do it again, to have a rematch, and I think I would do even better the second time.”
While Horn and many of the 51,000 fans in Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium agreed with the three ringside judges’ verdict, Pacquiao was seen as the winner by everyone from ESPN analyst Teddy Atlas to a department of the Philippines government, which requested the WBO’s official review of the scores.
Three of the five independent judges awarded the fight to Horn (17-0-1, 11 KOs), and an aggregation of those judges’ scores also favored the new champ.
“I felt like I had won, so if it had come back with (the independent judges) saying I hadn’t, I would have still felt like I did anyway,” Horn said Tuesday over lunch in downtown Los Angeles, where he is attending ESPN’s sports awards show on Wednesday. “But to have them say that everyone else that studied it (felt) I had definitely won the fight gives me another sense of relief.”
Horn, whose fight injuries already have healed nicely, pressured Pacquiao (59-7-2) for 12 rounds and forced the eight-division champion to back up. While Pacquiao landed plenty of shots, Horn credits his persistence for the result — along with his resilience after he was rocked in the ninth round.
“At the end of that (ninth) round, I actually didn’t feel that bad,” Horn said. “But when (the referee) came over and said, ‘Show me something,’ I was just like, ‘Hold on a second, I’m not that bad!’ I’m pretty good at that stage. I thought, ‘All right, I’ll show you something over the next few rounds.'”
Horn’s enjoyment of his victory in the frenzied stadium was dampened in his post-fight interview with Atlas, who flatly told Horn that he disagreed with the decision.
“To hear someone like him say it straight to my face was a little bit heartbreaking,” Horn said. “But I easily just forget. I kind of lost a little bit of respect for Teddy after that.”
The victory has thrust instant stardom on Horn, the London Olympian and former schoolteacher who traveled to LA with his pregnant wife, Jo. Horn plans to upgrade the couple’s cars, and probably to pay off the mortgage on their home, but he also plans to keep pushing forward in his boxing career.
Pacquiao repeated his disagreement with the verdict this week, but also indicated on Twitter that he “will continue to fight” until he loses his passion. That likely means the Filipino senator isn’t retiring, and a big-money rematch with Horn is a logical step.
Promoter Bob Arum plans to visit Pacquiao in the Philippines soon to discuss their next move. A rematch sounds great to Horn, although logistical hurdles loom at Suncorp Stadium in his hometown.
“Obviously, doing it again in Brisbane is a good place,” Horn said. “I love fighting at home, so having it there again would be the preference to me.”