FILIPINO boxing champion Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao has signed a contract for a July match against Olympian Jeff Horn in Australia, Top Rank chief Bob Arum disclosed earlier this week.
Speaking to Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday, April 4, Arum said Pacquiao will defend his World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight title against Horn on July 1 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. Other details, however, have yet to be finalized.
“We’re slowly finishing up the deal to fight,” Arum told the newspaper. “People have agreed on essential points.”
“Paperwork takes time, particularly when it’s not the usual thing of getting it done in the United States. We’re dealing with an Australian promoter, the state government. Here, in this case, you’ve got to cross the T’s and dot the I’s, and that’s what we’re in the process of doing,” he added.
Expressing confidence that the fight against Horn will be a blockbuster in Australia, Arum said he expects the tickets for the 55,000-capacity stadium to be sold-out.
“Horn is an Aussie. There’s government behind it. They want the fight. They wanted Manny Pacquiao. Essentially, to buy the cheese, they wanted Pacquiao against this Aussie fighter,” Arum said.
The Top Rank chief initially endorsed Pacquiao’s match against undefeated Horn on April 23 but it was put on hold as the possibility of a match against Britain’s Amir Khan this coming May in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was explored.
“We’re not able to fight Amir Khan because of Ramadan, so we decided to take this fight in the interim,” Pacquiao’s adviser, Michael Koncz, told Fox Sports Asia.
He added, “Manny will train and do the best he can and hopefully we get the fight over with very quickly, we get out of there, we say ‘hi’ to the Australian fans and media and come home.”
While the proposed UAE fight was dropped, Koncz, for his part, said he is still looking at the possibility of a Pacquiao-Khan bout sometime in October or November.
“We signed it, so yeah, we’re excited about it. But again, my preference was to fight Amir Khan. That didn’t work out. We had this on the table so we decided to take it,” Koncz said.
Koncz added that Pacquiao’s fans likely prefer a match against Khan.
In a Twitter poll last February, Pacquiao asked his followers to vote for his next opponent. Khan gained 48 percent of the more than 44,800 total votes. Horn, meanwhile, only received 7 percent, while Kell Brook and Terence Crawford got 24 percent and 21 percent respectively.
“Frankly and honestly, and nothing against Jeff Horn — I’ve never met the kid, I don’t know him personally — but the name recognition is I guess why the fans picked Amir Khan,” Koncz said.
Pacquiao, with a record of 59-6-2 win-loss-draw, won his last match via unanimous decision and defended his WBO welterweight title against Jessie Vargas last year. Horn, on the other hand, has a record of 16-0-1 and 11 KOs.