Jeff Horn, nicknamed “The Hornet”, grew up in Brisbane and first walked into a boxing club 11 years ago to learn self-defence.
On Sunday he won a brutal fight, in front of a packed hometown crowd at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, despite a controversial unanimous points decision, with the three judges scoring the fight 117-111, 115-113 and 115-113 to the Australian after 12 rounds.
Pacquiao’s camp slammed the officials after the Filipino lost his World Boxing Organisation welterweight title.
“The referee was sketchy, the judges were crazy,” said Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune, who is a former Australian heavyweight champion.
“Manny lost the fight but Jeff Horn looks like a pumpkin,” Fortune added, referring to Horn’s ending the fight with a badly swollen face and needing stitches over his right eye.
While the Filipino’s camp slammed the decision, the eight-weight world champion said on Filipino TV that they thought that they had won this fight.
“There is no problem with me if there’s a rematch,” he said. “It would be better if the rematch would be held in the Philippines.”
Pacquiao is considered one of the greatest fighters of his generation. His camp had predicted a “short and sweet” win over Horn, a 2012 Australian Olympian.
But Horn showed no signs of being overawed by the occasion, relentlessly taking the fight to the Filipino great and not allowing him to find any rhythm.
“I feel like he couldn’t get a hold of my gap. I was feinting a lot, trying to upset his rhythm and I think that was working throughout the majority of that fight,” said Horn, who stands nine centimetres taller than Pacquiao.
Pacquiao did manage to land some left jabs in the opening rounds to take the early points but Horn refused to back away and his brawling tactics paid dividends through the middle stages.
“He was quick when he put combinations together but I felt controlling the gap made it easier to see the punches coming,” Horn said. “The size difference helped too.”