PERTH, Australia – Where Jeff Horn is today, Manny Pacquiao was in the same situation 14 years ago.
After winning the Pacquiao derby for his next fight, the little-known Horn is suddenly thrust into the limelight.
Jeff Horn, who?
That’s about the same story the legendary Pacquiao was when he went up against future Hall of Famer Marco Antonio Barrera at the Alamodome in Texas in 2003.
That cold November night, the Filipino boxing legend first became known by people outside hardcore boxing fans with a devastating performance to stop Barrera in the 11th round.
Pacquiao moved up in weight to face Barrera for the lineal featherweight title, and the odds were heavily stacked against him.
Now, you know how Horn feels when just about the whole world is above you, and you are like a tiny bit on a high-power objective of a microscope?
Yes, Horn isn't even quite sure how he's landed here.
This is one fight he has nothing to lose. One that could propel him to stardom whether he wins or not. This is the fight that will begin a path that sets him up financially for the rest of his life.
Pacquiao was much the same, too, before that memorable Barrera night when he finally ‘arrived’ in the boxing world.
The Barrera fight was considered by experts as the greatest Pacquiao performance ever and HBO commentator, Larry Merchant, probably summed it up the best, when he said: “This is a fight that will shake up the boxing world."
The legendary boxing analyst couldn’t be wrong. Pacquiao would shake up the boxing world and rule it with five more division titles for a total of eight — no one in the boxing world has ever achieved this.
As for Horn, he has reportedly moved past the contemplation stage.
His management Duco Events and legendary Top Rank promoter Bob Arum have sealed the deal for what could be the biggest fight in Australian boxing history.
That, for now, is more than enough for Horn to digest.
"I guess I speak well, I translate to a lot of different people," Horn says. "I don't know ... I'm just glad he [Arum] likes me," said the Brisbane schoolteacher in a recent interview with Sydney Morning Herald.
The fight could happen in Brisbane, Horn's hometown, on April 23 depending on how the negotiations and how the Queensland government responds to the challenge of hosting the fight.
A huge amount is necessary to put up this fight definitely. And that is the reason Arum is bringing Pacquiao around the world on his farewell tour.
Given that the parties involved can come to the table with acceptable amounts of money and Pacquiao signs off on the arrangement, the Brisbane fight is all good and the surrounds would be the famed cauldron of Suncorp Stadium, where the legends of Wally Lewis and Origin snake through every blade of grass.
Sydney Morning Herald reported on Sunday that Glenn Rushton, Horn's trainer and another intriguing character in this left-field sporting production that's dropped out of the sky like a cartoon piano, feels the time is right for another fable to be written.
"I believe so – his doubters will have egg on their face," says Rushton, who looks like a sensei from a 1970s kung-fu movie but manages a $70 million investment fund when he's not looking after fighters.
"Naturally I respect Manny Pacquiao for everything he's achieved in the sport. But when you start to weigh it up, you will see what we have in Jeff Horn. You can't see the future, but I believe we're looking at a future legend.
"Now, they're saying, 'Who the hell is Jeff Horn?' After, they'll know all about Jeff Horn." It’s the same question they asked way back in 2003.
“Who the heck is Manny Pacquiao?” In those days, even Michael Buffer could not pronounce his surname right. Although he has had two weight division titles tucked under his belt, Pacquiao was just coming out of his Manila base to fight in the United States on big stage."
That gives Jeff Horn the rush.