Manny Pacquiao vs Jeff Horn: Pick gets support from Paul MalignaggiWritten by Joseph Herron
Boxing's only eight division world champion and future first-ballot Hall of Fame pugilist, Manny Pacquiao, will enter the ring once again on July 1, and face the WBO's number one ranked contender Jeff Horn at the SunCorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia.
Despite receiving a healthy, or unhealthy, dose of criticism from many boxing pundits and die-hard fight fans, a long-time detractor of the Pacman is surprisingly coming to his defense for the controversial decision to square off against the relative unknown in "the land down under".
Boxing commentator and former prizefighter Paulie Malignaggi recently spoke to ESNews online about the upcoming event, and shared his thoughts on Manny's next opponent.
"He's not a bad fighter," claims the former two-division world champion. "Is he at the elite level of a Manny Pacquiao? Maybe, but probably not. Right now he's probably the best fighter currently coming up in Australia."
Although most avid fight fans would prefer to see a "premium" match-up against the recognized stalwarts of the talent-enriched Welterweight division, like current WBC/WBA champion Keith Thurman, IBF title holder Kell Brook or even former four-division titlist Adrien Broner, the Magic-Man reminds Pacquiao's critics that boxing is indeed a global sport.
"Ali did his thing, traveling the world in fights against Karl Mildenberger and Henry Cooper, and Sugar Ray Robinson did the same thing back in the day. So I'm not going to knock it. You can't keep recycling the same names. You've got to give other guys chances too. Boxing is a world sport, and Kevin Horn is a pretty good fighter, so I'm not going to heavily criticize this match-up."
While most boxing aficionados don't care to be reminded of the business behind the sport, Malignaggi reminds the Pacman's critics to judge slowly when examining what could be the biggest and most meaningful prizefight in the history of the continent.
"The opportunity to fight in a stadium in Australia is pretty cool," stated Paulie Malignaggi to ESNews. "Plus the fight isn't taking place too far from Pacquiao in the Philippines."
"I've been hard on Pacquiao in the past for things which I think are justified, but I'm not going to be hard on him for things that I don't think are justified. I think there's a fun element to the fight with Jeff Horn, and I can see why they (Top Rank/Manny Pacquiao) are doing it."
Since dropping a unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in May of 2015, which drew unprecedented numbers in terms of gross proceeds and a PPV viewing audience, Senator Pacquiao's numbers have dramatically declined on the premium cable platform.
In April of 2016, Pacquiao vs. Bradley 3 attracted less than half a million viewers on the HBO PPV stage, with a subsequent effort opposite Jessie Vargas pulling in less than 300K in November of last year. The drastic decline in garnering the interest of the casual American sports fan undoubtedly played a huge part in the decision making process for Team Pacquiao and longtime promoter Top Rank, Inc.
"He's trying to maximize his money at the end of his career. If people buy the tickets, there's no reason for him to stop doing what he's doing, right? This fight will sell-out a stadium in Australia. No amount of criticism is going to stop that from happening."
"Should he turn down the opportunity to fight Jeff Horn in a packed stadium, with probably the biggest promotion in the history of Australian boxing, versus coming to the MGM Grand in America, where he's already fought several times?"
"I'd probably pick the Australia fight too; it's something new. Pacquiao has already done all of that other stuff...fighting for legacy and achieving greatness. He hasn't done this."
An official press conference announcing the upcoming event between Manny and Jeff Horn is expected to be scheduled within the next few weeks.