(UPDATED) Unheralded Australian boxer Jeff Horn pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport by outpointing Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao in front of his hometown fans at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia on Sunday.
In front of over 50,000 fans in Brisbane, Horn pressured Pacquiao for 12 grueling rounds, survived a hellish beating in the ninth, and finished with a strong flurry to earn the nod of all three judges.
Judges scored the bout 117-111, 115-113, 115-113, all in favor of Horn, giving the Australian boxer the WBO welterweight title – the first world championship of his young professional career.
"It's an absolute dream come true," said Horn, beaming in delight even as his right eye was starting to swell after being cut during the bout.
It was a stunning victory for Horn, who was given little chance of being competitive against the 38-year-old Pacquiao, much less beating the Filipino legend. However, Horn and his team had been quietly confident all throughout fight week, believing that they had prepared well enough to take down the "Pacman."
The Australian caught Pacquiao off guard early as Horn opened the bout on an aggressive note, repeatedly pressing the Filipino against the ropes and unloading punches. While Pacquiao managed to block or evade most of Horn's shots, the "Hornet" did land a right hand that caught Pacquiao's attention late in the first.
Horn managed to keep up his aggressive style as the fight went on, with Pacquiao content to land counter lefts every time that Horn came in. The bout took a turn for the bloody in the sixth round, when an accidental clash of heads opened up wide gash on the right side of Pacquiao's head.
Trying to take advantage of the situation, Horn ramped up his activity and tagged Pacquiao with another huge right, only for the Filipino boxer to shake it off and even egg on the Australian.
However, Pacquiao sustained another deep cut in the seventh round, due again to an accidental head butt. Remarkably, the Filipino again shook it off, and seemed to gain his rhythm while Horn's energy appeared to flag.
Pacquiao took over in the ninth round, catching Horn flush to his head that forced the Australian to clinch. The blow clearly staggered the 29-year-old Horn, who spent most of the round on the defensive. Pacquiao, meanwhile, tried valiantly to go for the finishing blow, but Horn managed to end the round on his feet.
Warned by the referee to "show me something" or else risk having the fight stopped, Horn came out with renewed energy in the 10th round, and the two combatants gave the fans in Brisbane a show by swinging at each for the final three frames of the bout.
As if to show that he still had the energy to go on, Pacquiao put on a shadow boxing display when the final bell rang, and was lifted up by his team immediately.
However, the smiles on their faces turned to frowns of confusion when Horn was announced as the winner.
"No complaints," Pacquiao said of the judges' scores. "It's part of the game."
Both men left the door open for a rematch after the bout. "Bring it on," said Horn. "Oh yeah, definitely," Pacquiao said when asked.
Yet it appeared that Horn already has his eyes set on an even bigger prize, as he challenged unbeaten American superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr. immediately afterward. The Australian pulled out a pair of boxing gloves and a cane, then said: "To Floyd Mayweather, this is no joke – which one does he want, the walking stick or the gloves?"
Mayweather is set to face mixed martial arts superstar Conor McGregor in a boxing match on August 26.
Horn improved to 17 wins with no loss and one draw.
Pacquiao, meanwhile, dropped to 59-7-2. It was his first loss since being beaten by Mayweather in the "Fight of the Century" last May 2015.
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