BRISBANE, Australia – An Australian Rocky story? Jeff Horn hopes to fit the role and be the latest real-life Rocky Balboa imitation.
The 29-year-old Horn continues to display a brave stand in the light of greater odds facing him Sunday against reigning welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao.
Despite getting the partisan support of the huge 55,000 crowd expected to show up at the Suncorp Stadium here for the 12-round bout that would go down as the biggest sporting event in Australian sports history, Horn remains a great underdog against an experienced, future Hall of Famer opponent.
That’s not telling he doesn’t relish the role of Rocky, the fictitious character played out by Sylvester Stallone in the award-winning film that had spawned a number of sequels.
“I don’t know if it’s a dream or I just keep picturing it on my head that it will become a real Rocky theme like embracing that belt around my waist,” said the challenger, unbeaten in 17 fights (with 11 KOs) but is perceived a 4-1 underdog against the 38-year-old World Boxing Organization (WBO) title holder.
“Even if he’s the smaller man, he’s the biggest mountain I’ve had to climb.”
His trainer Glenn Rushton has also embraced the attitude, believing the camp of Pacquiao is underestimating his fighter despite saying the opposite in public.
“I do think Freddie (Roach) and Manny had probably underestimated Jeff even though they’re saying it’s not,” Rushton pointed out during the fight’s final presser Wednesday at the Suncorp Stadium as he sat beside Horn at the podium.
It didn’t help any that Pacquiao, the eight-time world division champion and Philippine senator, spent most of his time on his mobile phone while the press conference was ongoing.
The champion also arrived late for the proceedings as Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk and Minister for Tourism and Major Events Kate Jones, Horn and his team waited for him to arrive for almost an hour.
While Horn wouldn’t make an issue about the matter, the former Australian school teacher didn’t hide how he felt about it.
“I can’t imagine him doing that at a (Floyd) Mayweather press conference,” said Horn afterwards.
Duco Events’ Dean Lonergan, who promotes Horn, just made fun out of the situation that he called Pacquiao a ‘world champion texter’ when he was speaking before medicament at the podium.
“It gave me a laugh when Dean called him out on it, it was hilarious,” recalled Horn.
“His face … he didn’t know what to do.”