MANILA – It's fair to say that Team Pacquiao was less than pleased with the performance of referee Mark Nelson during the Filipino boxing icon's WBO welterweight title defense against Jeff Horn in Brisbane, Australia.
Manny Pacquiao and his trainer, Freddie Roach, both believe that Nelson allowed Horn to get away with too much clinching and head-locking throughout the 12-round bout, which the Australian shockingly won via unanimous decision.
"'Yung referee, walang experience," Pacquiao said after the loss, which dropped his record to 59-7-2. "Dapat warningan niya 'yung pag-ipit ng ulo ko."
Roach, for his part, said it was clear that Nelson did not have control of the fight.
"Manny was in a headlock every time, and the referee has to do something about it; that's his job," said Roach.
Roach does not believe that Horn is a dirty fighter, only that the younger Australian made most of the leeway given to him by the third man in the ring. Horn often moved to tuck Pacquiao's head under his arm whenever the Filipino star moved in for an attack, and clinched often in the later rounds to preserve his energy.
"Way too many headlocks, way too many clinches," Roach lamented.
"The ref let him fight that way all night," he also said.
Pacquiao also got the worse end of their accidental head butts, as he suffered cuts on either side of his head in the sixth and seventh rounds.
Still, the Filipino boxer was in control for most of the bout, especially in the ninth round when he very nearly stopped Horn. Nelson even warned the Australian boxer that the bout will stopped if he did not show any semblance of a fight in the tenth frame.
Horn got his second wind in round 10, and managed to last until the final bell.
"He came back well in the next round," Roach said of Horn. "When you have a round like that, a lot of people will agree that it's a 10-8 round, for sure. He got his a** kicked."
Though they were disappointed with the referee, Team Pacquiao nevertheless admitted that Horn was tougher than expected.
"Matibay (siya)," Pacquiao said of the new champion. "Akala ko, tapos na sa ninth round."