Manny Pacquiao will extend his illustrious boxing career with a fight against a little-known former schoolteacher who never expected he’d get a shot at such a legend of the ring.
Pacquiao will take on Australian Jeff Horn on July 2 at Brisbane’s 52,500-capacity Suncorp Stadium in a defense of Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight title.
Promoters for Horn, a 29-year-old and the No. 2 contender, had been working on a possible deal to fight Pacquiao since January, and finally made the announcement on Sunday with state government officials in attendance.
Pacquiao and his camp had attempted to line up a higher-paying fight with Britain’s Amir Khan in the Middle East which never eventuated, stalling the negotiations for several months.
The 38-year-old Pacquiao is an 11-time world champion over eight weight divisions and is now a senator in the Philippines. He has a record of 59-6-2 while Horn is 16-0-1.
The bout, being dubbed by organizers as “Australia’s biggest-ever fight,” is expected to be held at the open-air stadium around midday or early afternoon Sunday, July 2, coinciding with a prime-time television audience back in the United States on the Saturday night, July 1.
And although Brisbane has a subtropical climate, July is right in the middle of the southern hemisphere winter, where temperatures should be in the low 20s Celsius (around 68 Fahrenheit).
“Pacquiao and his managers sound a bit confident and cocky,” Horn, who fought at the London Olympics in 2012, said at the press conference Sunday which Pacquiao did not attend.
“It’s like ‘we will just take this fight, come to Brisbane, knock over Jeff Horn, make their millions and go do the Khan fight’. I hope he keeps feeling that way.”
There was no immediate reaction from Pacquiao via a statement or on social media. His last Twitter comment on April 1 included a photo of himself, his wife and five children wishing everyone a “Happy Sunday.”
Horn said he may be not well-known but believed the Pacquiao fight would allow him make a name for himself.
“Amir Khan is a big name even though he has been knocked out so many times,” Horn said. “But this is my chance to make a name for myself.”
“I never thought Pacquiao would still be around when I got my world title shot. He is getting a bit older, I am still young. I am ready to take this shot and I am ready to take it off Pacquiao.”
The fight was secured by the Queensland state government and the city of Brisbane.
“Up to 55,000 boxing fans from across Australia and the world are expected to fill Suncorp Stadium to see the local teacher taking on one of the biggest names in boxing history, on his home turf,” said Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
“The match is a highlight on the state’s major events calendar and is set to deliver an economic boost to the city.”