Manny Pacquiao isn’t the marquee star he once was but there’s reason to believe that, at 38, he still has plenty to give to the sport.
There was evidence in the Filipino senator’s two 2016 outings, comprehensive decision victories over Timothy Bradley (their third meeting) and Jessie Vargas. Pacquiao scored knockdowns in both matchups and looked a whole lot like the man who made his mark as a lightning-fast power-puncher, who can deliver combinations from all angles.
Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 knockouts) will have the perfect foil in Australian Jeff Horn, whom he meets Saturday in Brisbane, Australia (9 p.m. ET, ESPN) in a WBO welterweight title defense. After all, Horn (16-0, 11 KOs) is little-known in the U.S., and was dropped in two of his last three bouts.
With an audience on ESPN, rather than pay-per-view, Pacquiao will certainly have more viewers than ever before to display just how much he has left in the tank.
“This is a great opportunity to show the fans of boxing that we are still here and not done in boxing,” he said, “so this is a good chance and we believe that a lot of people will be watching and we spoke to (Top Rank CEO) Bob (Arum) and we decided to give the people a chance to watch the fight on a free station in America.”
The eight-division champion is energized by the chance to fight in front of another huge audience in person too. Pacquiao twice has fought at Cowboys Stadium, in 2010 decision wins over Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito, where crowds of over 40,000 watched “Pacman” at the peak of his powers.
“I am a person that loves to fight against my opponent with focus and determination,” said Pacquiao. “It gives me extra motivation to have 50,000 to 60,000 fans cheering for him, so that is good for me.
“Like when I fought Marco Antonio Barrera in San Antonio, Texas, in 2003, I had only five fans for me and four of them were Freddie and my corner. It gives me more inspiration and focus.”
The same will be true Saturday, when an Australian record of approximately 60,000 fans will pack Suncorp Stadium to cheer on native son Jeff Horn, the schoolteacher who was born and raised in Brisbane.
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeCoppinger.
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Source:: The Ring – Boxing