BRISBANE, Australia – Jeff Horn turned to boxing at a young age after being frequently bullied as a kid growing up in Queensland.
Manny Pacquiao is looking to do the same thing to him on Sunday.
And with the local hero expected to to come in looking to brawl, expect fireworks to be served as the two top welterweights of the world rumble for 12 rounds in front of a roaring record crowd of 55,000 at the massive Suncorp Stadium here.
‘The Battle of Brisbane’ culminates at around 1:30 p.m. local time (just before mid-noon in Manila) in a showcase that promises to be the biggest boxing event in the history of Australia, with no less than the city’s most beloved son gunning for his first world title and seeking to pull off a stunning upset at the expense of a fighter regarded as one of the best of all time.
It’s going to be a war, according to Horn’s trainer and manager Glenn Rushton, ‘Sunday, Bloody Sunday,’ as he dubbed it after heaving a sigh of relief seeing fighter barely made the 147-lb. limit during Saturday’s official weigh-in.
Pacquiao, fighting in a world championship for the 22nd time and seeking his 60th career victory, is more than willing to bring the war to his 29-year-old challenger.
“Manny is ready to go and I would tell him to put him off right away,” said Freddie Roach, the Hall of Fame trainer of Pacquiao, 38.
“He has to start quick and go to this guy right away,” disclosed Roach of their fight plan, aware how Horn struggled to lose at least six pounds just to tip in at exactly 147 during the weigh-in.
Pacquiao, whose World Bpxing Organization (WBO) title belt will be at stake in the first ever bout to be beamed live for free (via ESPN) in the U.S. since the 1978 Muhammad Ali-Leon Spinks heavyweight championship clash, was relaxed on the eve of the match.
He came it at a trimmed weight of 146, before feasting on rice, boiled egg, chicken, and broth soup for his lunch held in a small, makeshift diner overlooking the fight venue.
In the afternoon, he held a bible service in a function room at the Sofitel Hotel, where his entourage numbering over a hundred has been staying for more than a week now. Photo ops and autograph signing were prohibited by his security to give the champ ample time to rest before the fight.
While he refused to talk about the match, where he’s guaranteed to take home $10 million plus a share in the fight revenue, Pacquiao, also a senator in the Philippines, offered the Horn bout to his countrymen especially those caught in the Marawi City crossfire.
“Alay ko sa inyo ang laban na ito,” said the Pacman (59-6-2, 38 KOs). “After the fight, God-willing mabisita ko kayo at magdadala ako ng konting tulong na galing dito sa haharapin ko bukas (Sunday).”
Horn is also fighting for a country whose greatest fighter, three-time world champion Jeff Fenech, is expected to be at ringside in the hope of seeing history unfold.
“I’ll keep going over to this 10-point plan that Glenn (Rushton) has done up for me. I’ll just keep that in mind for what I have to do to upset Manny,” said the former school teacher, who is unbeaten in 17 fights (16-0-1, 11 KOs) and is ranked No.2 by the WBO.
Horn admitted being irritated with having to shed quite a lot of weight leading to the biggest pay-per-view fight in Australian boxing annals. But now that everything’s over but the match, the challenger said he can’t wait to be in the ring and take on the greatest Filipino fighter ever.
“Now it’s time to switch over into fight mode,” he stressed. “I’m really looking forward to getting out there tomorrow.”
Third man in the ring is American Mark Nelson, while the three judges scoring the bout are Waleska Roldan, Chris Flores, and Ramon Cerdan.