Manny Pacquiao became boxing’s latest victim of ‘daylight robbery’ when he lost to Jeff Horn on Sunday, writes GARY LEMKE.
Pacquiao’s defeat to an unheralded Australian boxer in Brisbane unleashed a storm of criticism of the judging. And rightly so. But the eight-division world champion knew the dangers before he signed up for the 68th fight of a glittering career.
There is an old expression in boxing that says, ‘you have to knock the other guy out to get a draw’ when you go into his home town, which makes it tough to understand why the Pacman agreed to defend his lightly-regarded WBO welterweight title – and reputation – against an unbeaten (16-0) 29-year-old in Brisbane, in front of more than 51,000 home fans at the Suncorp Stadium, which is a crowd the Queensland Reds and Super Rugby can only drool about.
Plus, the contest took part in the open-air stadium on a Sunday afternoon, which leant itself to an unfamiliar boxing setting. We’ve become accustomed to watching fights late at night in closed arenas, the ring lights amplifying the sweat and blood of both boxers.
Not that there wasn’t plenty sweat and blood in this action-packed 12-rounder. Neither Pacquiao or Jeff Horn can be excused of not bringing their all to the ring, although in Pacquiao’s case his skills have eroded over time, and he’s now looking every day of his 38 years. Still, the wide consensus was that the southpaw legend would have too much left in the tank to repel the challenge of the ambitious Australian.
The Pacman earned some US$10-million for making the trip to Brisbane – the home hero was guaranteed US$500,000 plus bonuses, which should take it to around US$1-million – and the result now means that he is likely to trigger the rematch clause in the contract.
Just how one judge managed to award Horn the fight 117-111 suggests they were either watching a different contest or that they were, at worst biased, at best paid off. Two other judges went 115-113, which is poor enough, but they could have been swayed by the crowd and the sheer volume of support for Horn.
Pacquiao landed 182 punches to the 92 of the Australian and afterwards that fine former world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis tweeted, ‘This is what’s wrong with boxing. Horn was very game but I’m hard pressed to see how he could have won that fight by any stretch!’
But it’s what boxing has been dealing with for decades. ‘Daylight robbery’ – in this case quite literally – has applied to countless fighters and especially when it comes to stepping into an opponent’s backyard.
Next time the Pacman simply has to knock out Horn to get the verdict if it’s in Australia, although having lost four of his last nine fights, the Filipino legend who has designed on becoming president of his country, is now being dragged into a mire of mediocrity and farce.
Perhaps we should end with a South African who I believe is the greatest boxer this country has produced. I say so because Brian Mitchell won the world junior-lightweight title at Sun City in 1986 and then successfully defended his belt 14 times in the next five years. It was a remarkable achievement because all of those 14 defences came in the backyards of his opponents. Mitchell was not allowed to defend on his home South African soil because of apartheid.
They nicknamed him the ‘Road Warrior’, for obvious reasons. Being given a points verdict in a world title fight in hostile surroundings is brutally tough. Just ask the Pacman.