Days leading up to the fight Australia’s Jeff Horn spoke about the need to control the distance against Manny Pacquiao and did the exact opposite of that when they fought. Whatever space there was between themselves he had tried to chew up, and he absorbed punch after punch a surprised Pacquiao threw at him.
He would occasionally land a shot of his own. His uppercuts were impressive, and many of Freddie Roach’s fighters are vulnerable to it. Whenever the defending champion tried to work things up he’d clinch him, lean and throw his weight knowing very well that he is the bigger man. They’d get tied up and the supposedly inexperienced Horn would elbow him and push him around. That way the audience felt that age has finally caught up with the 38-year-old legend whose timing was also a bit off.
Manny Pacquiao should have complained about how the title contender was flinging himself head-first and the roughhousing, but remains as stoic as he’s always been all his life, having grown up in the toughest sections of society almost perennially disadvantaged. He steadfastly worked his way around his troubles instead and Compubox numbers support the efficacy of this effort. The referee warned of stopping the fight at the ninth round when Jeff Horn almost went down with his face masked in blood.
Like Manny Pacquiao’s rise back in the heydays of his career, the storyline of the day was about true grit and determination- only not his, but of Jeff Horn’s. These traits were so high and admirable that the numbers that surround the fight could never match up to it. Manny Pacquiao should have won that fight almost every expert on the sport all over the world would say, but there’s no denying Horn fought like a true champion too. Manny Pacquiao should have won all right, and the imposing Australian would have gone home with glee, knowing deep in his heart he had exceeded himself against one of the finest prizefighters in history.
Somewhere in Mindanao a farmer listening to Baleleng with his radio abandons his implement in the stifling heat, walks across the field and throws an occasional hook. A Filipino doctor walks round the hospital in America with pride and shuffles his feet like Ali. A Filipina housemaid in the Middle East pauses to daydream about being with her family for a minute before continuing with her workaday chores. In Australia, Manny Pacquiao smiles a smile Filipinos are all too familiar with and well known for.
Wherever a Filipino may be, nigh or far, they were all in beautiful Brisbane fighting for a better life, believing, following his lead. Ah! Poor Manny, yet always rich at heart. This is the same spirit that would not be overcome even by the Spanish conquistadors for hundreds of years.