GIVEN his busy schedule in the Senate, Manny Pacquiao has a perfect opponent in Jeff Horn.
Former two-time world champion Gerry Penalosa, a close friend of Pacquiao, believes the 29-year-old Australian poses less danger to the reigning World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight champion than, say, an Amir Khan or a Terrence Crawford.
Not that he’s underestimating Horn, unbeaten in 17 pro fights with 11 KOs and a veteran of the 2012 London Olympics. But Penalosa is aware Pacquiao will have lesser time to train for his next fight owing to his work as a senator.
Pacquiao now has in his hand the fight contract with Horn, his signature the only thing missing for the July 2 title bout in Brisbane, Australia to finally push through.
“Mas easy fight kay Manny yun kaysa kay Amir,” said Penalosa in a chat with SPIN.ph at the Smart Araneta Coliseum as he brought along his family to watch the PBA games.
“Hindi naman natin sinasabing sure win kay Manny yun, pero alam naman natin na mas dangerous na kalaban si Amir. Mas mataas na level na siya kaysa kay Horn.”
For a while, Khan was in the running to be Pacquiao’s next opponent this May after emerging as the No. 1 pick by boxing fans in a poll the Pacman conducted on social media as to who they want him to fight next.
But the supposed match in the United Arab Emirates fizzled out as organizers failed to produce the staggering amount of $38 million the Pacquiao camp was expecting.
The turn of events forced Top Rank chairman Bob Arum to revisit his earlier offer for the 38-year-old boxing champion to defend his 147-lb. belt against Horn, a fighter Pacquiao (59-6, 38 KOs) previously discarded.
Penalosa, 44, said Pacquiao should finally give his approval for the Horn fight.
“At least may three months pa siya to prepare and train. And maaayos pa niya yung schedule niya,” said the veteran fighter from San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, who once reigned as World Boxing Council (WBC) super flyweight and World Boxing Organization (WBO) bantamweight champion.
He even went on to say on record that Jessie Vargas is obviously the better fighter than Horn.
Vargas (27-2, 10 KOs) was the Mexican fighter Pacquiao dethroned via unanimous decision in winning the WBO title belt in his last fight in November of 2016.
“Mas hamak na magaling na boxer si Vargas,” he said of the Mexican warrior, who was knocked down by Pacquiao in the second of their 12-round fight.