One of the best summers of boxing in years began in mid-June with Andre Ward beating Sergey Kovalev – as we predicted here – in a rematch for three world light heavyweight belts. The spectacular schedule continues Sunday in Australia (Saturday night Eastern time) as Manny Pacquiao puts his WBO welterweight title on the line in the “Battle of Brisbane” against Jeff Horn. The Pac-Man is a huge -772 favourite on Sports Interaction boxing odds with Horn at +456.
Pacquiao vs. Horn Odds
We’ve talked before in this space about how boxing has been surpassed by mixed martial arts for mainstream sports fans and bettors. Boxing officials have been aggressively trying to do something to get more fans into their sport. One easy way to accomplish that is to stage non-pay-per-view fights because only die-hard boxing fans are going to pay $60 and up to watch a card. Many are still are furious for the huge price paid for the boring Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather mega-fight two years ago.
The Pacquiao-Horn fight will air live on ESPN in the United States (and streamed on ESPN App) from Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia. It’s the first Pacquiao fight not on pay-per-view since he knocked out Hector Velazquez on HBO in September 2005. The card begins Sunday afternoon Brisbane time, but that’s 14 hours ahead from Eastern time so it will begin at 9 p.m. ET. The Pacquiao-Horn fight likely won’t start until 11:30 p.m. ET or so.
Pacquiao is Odds Favorite
It’s well-known that Pacquiao wants another shot at Mayweather for his lopsided loss in May 2015 – Pacquiao was injured during the fight and blamed that for the result. It’s not considered likely that the two fight again as Mayweather is coming out of retirement for about $400 million to take on UFC star Conor McGregor on Aug. 26 in an attempt to become the first boxer to reach 50-0. There’s really no reason for Mayweather to fight again after facing McGregor, and few in the sport have any interest in another snooze-fest between Mayweather and Pacquiao. But in the strange world of boxing, you can never rule anything out.
The 38-year-old Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs), who is a sitting senator in the Philippines, has two impressive wins since losing to Mayweather. Pacquiao beat Timothy Bradley Jr. and Jessie Vargas in lopsided unanimous decisions last year and has reclaimed the WBO welterweight title.
Pacquiao originally wanted to fight the much more accomplished Amir Khan but that couldn’t be made. Promoter Bob Arum convinced him to fight Horn (Pacquiao said he had never heard of him) because of the added ESPN exposure – this is the first fight first under the new deal forged between ESPN and Arum’s Top Rank — and because this will be the biggest sports story on the continent this week. This will be one of the few times in his Hall of Fame career in which Pacquiao is not the crowd favorite.
Hometown Favorite Jeff Horn is Big Underdog
Horn (16-0-1, 11 KOs) is 29 and from Brisbane. He’s also a former school teacher and 2012 Olympian for Australia, turning pro in 2013. Not a whole lot is known about him, and he hasn’t fought any one of note. He’s popular in his native country, though, and officials are expecting more than 50,000 in attendance at the rugby stadium, which would break the Australian boxing record. By the way, Horn is a slightly bigger underdog here than McGregor (+450) is against Mayweather.
Assuming Pacquiao wins, next rumoured opponents mentioned have been WBO junior lightweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko, WBC & WBO junior weltrweight king Terence Crawford, both Top Rank fighters, and WBC & WBA welterweight champ Keith Thurman.
Sports Interaction offers plenty of props on the fight. Pacquiao hasn’t won a fight by knockout since November 2009 against Miguel Cotto but that method of victory Saturday is +125. Horn by decision is the long shot at +1200. The over/under rounds total is 9.5, with the over a -219 favourite.
Boxing Odds & Predictions
Horn is three inches taller than Pacquiao and has an inch advantage of reach, but he’s just not in the same class. Sure, we’ve already seen one upset Down Under this year: a 35-year-old Roger Federer winning the Australian Open. No upsets here. Pacquiao wins by decision, which is a -110 favourite.