PERTH, Australia – All of a sudden, boxing is catching up with other sports in terms of interest in the land Down Under.
These days, boxing is just as hot as summer in a country known more for its passion for footy, rugby and cricket, getting its share of interest from Aussie sports fans.
The sports world here is ‘intrigued’ with boxing legend Manny Pacquiao’s much-awaited fight against Brisbane’s former Olympian Jeff Horn on April 23 in Brisbane, never mind if the contract has yet to be signed by the fighting senator from the Philippines.
Aussie rivals Danny Green and Anthony Mundine clash at the Adelaide Oval on February 3 in a highly anticipated rematch that has created heaps of airtime on a week dominated by tennis news from the Australian Open in Melbourne.
That alone is proof of boxing's growing populariity in a country whose most notable contributions to the sport are Jeff Fenech, Kostya Tszyu, and half Aussie Vic Darchinyan.
A Horn-Pacquiao match is bound to fan the flames.
A netizen posted at Australia-based sports online The Roar: - “This really is a win-win-win, Horn gets to fight one of the best fighters in the world and surpass Mundine and Green for opponents status, Brisbane gets to host one of the biggest fights in Australia boxing history, and Pacman notches up another win before hopefully taking on Mayweather again (thats is if Mayweather has the guts????) Everybody wins here there will not be a loser.”
Green, who held the WBA light-heavyweight title from 2007 to 2008, the IBO cruiserweight title twice, from 2009 to 2013, and the WBC interim super middleweight title from 2003 to 2005, is a fan favorite.
On the other hand, Mundine is Australia’s two-time WBA super-middleweight title who held the title from 2003 to 2004 and 2007 to 2008. He was also IBO middleweight title from 2009 to 2010, and the WBA interim super-welterweight title from 2011 to 2012. Before moving to boxing, Mundine was the highest paid player in the NRL.
The Mundine-Green fight has by far sold some 40,000 tickets and the PPV price is at a prohibitive $59.99, the same price as the Mayweather-Pacquiao megafight. Most pubs across Australia will be showing the fight.
If the Mundine-Greene fight could pack the crowd in, imagine how much crowd the Pacman vs. Hornet fight would attract at the Suncorp Stadium if the fight ever happens there.
There are speculations around boxing circles that Pacquiao will just be using the Horn fight to boost the demand for another megafight with Mayweather to close out his career. He is expected to breeze through the Brisbane-based former Olympian and PE teacher.
Justin Faux, boxing expert and The Roar contributor, said the fight represents the opportunity of a lifetime for Horn.
Faux wrote: - “So, can ‘The Hornet’ sting ‘Pac-Man’? I doubt it. Horn is basically just another warm body for the former eight-division world champ to beat up on."
Faux added: “Granted, Horn is taking on Pacquiao in his waning years as a fighter – not the destroyer that iced Ricky Hatton, Erik Morales, and Miguel Cotto – but the ‘fighting school teacher’ has plain and simply never faced anyone on Pacquiao’s level. Not even close.”
According to reports circulating in Australia, Horn’s team has done their part to allow the promising fighter to mature as a boxer, giving him increasingly harder tests along the way. But the 28-year-old needs more seasoning to be able to stand a chance against the eight-division world champion.
Another netizen Ben Laird has this to say: “Horn is a very good domestic fighter. But hasn't been tested on the world stage at all. He's yet to fight any welterweight that's in the top 50 welterweights worldwide. You legit couldn't get a bigger jump in class.”
Despite the skepticism on Horn’s boxing credentials, the fight is expected to create a record of firsts as the biggest fight of Horn’s life and as one of the biggest boxing matches to ever take place on Australian soil.
Faux concluded in his article: “If this were a movie, a battered-and-bruised Horn would come from behind to flatline the multi-weight champion. But this isn’t a movie. This is real life."
The boxing expert believes Horn will be lucky to steal two rounds from ‘Pacman'