IT’S hardly the one that got away, but a rematch of the 2017 WBO welterweight title fight between Jeff Horn and Manny Pacquiao did seem a natural at the time and probably should have happened at some point.
That the fight never materialised, however, has nothing to do with Horn, the victor, running in another direction, says the Australian.
“For the record, I never denied a rematch,” confirmed Horn, 19-1-1 (13), via Instagram. “I don’t know who told you that.”
This was in response to Pacquiao, as per a report from the Manila Bulletin, claiming his team had pursued a potential rematch of the pair’s controversial first fight only to be told it was off the table.
“I was willing to do a rematch with them, but they didn’t want to,” said Pacquiao according to Manila Bulletin. “And now that I’m back on top and they are coming off a loss, they are asking for a rematch. No way.”
Certainly, the situation has changed since the pair met in 2017. Since then, Horn, a champion for just 11 months, made one successful defence of the title against Britain’s Gary Corcoran before losing to Terence Crawford last June via ninth round stoppage, while Pacquiao has won back-to-back fights against Lucas Matthysse and Adrien Broner. It is Pacquiao not Horn who now holds a title – albeit the spurious WBA ‘regular’ welterweight crown. It is Pacquiao not Horn who is once again in the driving seat.
That said, Horn’s victory over Pacquiao, 61-7-2 (39), will have no doubt irked the Filipino legend and is presumably one he still wishes to reverse – for as long as that remains the case, Horn could be in with a shout of a second ‘Pacman’ payday.
For those looking to judge Bermane Stiverne on his first-round knockout defeat against Deontay Wilder in November 2017, a warning to you: don’t. Similarly, if you’re assuming Joe Joyce, his next opponent, steamrolls Stiverne in the same sort of fashion when the pair lock horns on February 23 in London, don’t do that, either.
Stiverne, you see, wasn’t himself against Wilder that night. In fact, according to Stiverne, it was an impostor who was seen being drilled to defeat inside the opening round of a WBC world heavyweight title fight.
“I wish to apologize to my fans and supporters for sending an impostor into the ring when I challenged for the world title against Deontay Wilder for the world title in my last fight,” said Stiverne, as per a Don King Promotions press release.
“That was not me but a shadow of myself. A fraud, a (faker)…Someone else. My mind was not attached to my body. My heart was not in the fight. I was there in name only.
“Following the bout, I searched my soul and vowed I would either never fight again or dedicate my life as never before to regaining my world heavyweight title. I decided to go after the championship. With every ounce of my being I have dedicated myself to this comeback.
“I have worked spiritually, mentally, personally and physically to this goal. I have gone to the mountains, the desert, dieted, lived a life of sacrifice and deprivation to mould myself into a fighting machine. I have boxed a thousand rounds, run hundreds of miles and worked my body into the greatest shape of my career in pursuit of my world heavyweight title.”
You can’t fault Stiverne really. He is saying all the right things and selling this upcoming fight against Joyce to within an inch of its life. He is doing his job and doing it well.
Equally, though, it’s hard to look past the fact that the Haitian, a former WBC heavyweight champion, is now 40 years of age and has boxed less than one competitive round in over three years. Impostor or not, that hardly bodes well when in the company of ‘The Juggernaut’, a relatively inexperienced pro heavyweight who is busy, ambitious and in no mood to hang around.