Boxing: Jeff Horn stunned the world by defeating Manny Pacquiao and he did so after weathering some of the Filipino legend's finest work in the 9th round.
MANNY Pacquiao kept up the appearance of his almost-peerless reputation as one of boxing’s classiest acts and let his camp talk trash for him in the aftermath of his shocking loss to Aussie Jeff Horn at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.
As his trainer and fight officials launched a series of damning appraisals of the judges panel, Pacquiao spoke with glowing praise of Horn’s heart and said he accepted the controversial result.
The 38-year-old future hall of famer broke from that character after his unanimous decision loss in a live interview with Filipino news channel ANC.
Pacquiao slyly suggested Horn deployed dirty tactics during their fight and even questioned if referee Mark Nelson was deliberately allowing the challenger to get away with dirty tactics in a bid to fix the result.
In an interview translated into English by fight fans on Reddit, Pacquiao spoke out about Horn’s use of “headbutts” and “elbow” shots.
Reporter: Manny, can you comment on the fight because it seemed too physical and rough?
Pacquiao: It’s OK to play that kind of game as long as the referee knows what he’s doing. I don’t have any gripes on Horn’s play-style. Those can be avoided on the discretion of the referee.
Reporter: There were a lot of head-clashes, neck-hold, elbow strikes, right?
Pacquiao: Yes. There were lots of those because the referee did nothing. He seemed inexperienced. I don’t know if it was deliberate or not.
Pacquiao: There were warnings. There was even a two-point deduction on the two headbutts. But nothing was given by the referee.
Reporter: Were you overpowered by Horn’s size and the weight of his punches? How hard were his punches?
Pacquiao: No, not at all. I managed to block his punches. The only problem was his elbow-strikes and headbutts. (manny laughs) our heads even collided.
Pacquiao’s inflammatory comments tread a fine line between classy acceptance of the result while bordering on a public bashing of the fight officials and Horn.
His legendary trainer Freddy Roach was even more direct with his criticism of the judges, Horn and Nelson.
While Pacquiao claimed Nelson issued Horn several warnings for clamping headlocks and stray elbows, Roach claimed “something’s wrong” when Horn was able to get away without being deducted any points while deploying those tactics in nearly every round.
Roach told Filipino reporters he was shocked by how “dirty a fighter” Horn was.
“He took a lot of shots. And he gave good shots, but I didn’t think he was that dirty a fighter or that rough a fighter. He was very, very physical.
“The referee let him fight that way all night. When you end every exchange with a headlock something’s wrong. Someone is not doing something right.”
Roach said the ring official lost control of the fight by failing to take action against Horn.
“I’m too close to what’s happening so I don’t get a wide view of the action but I think Manny won the fight by two or three rounds,” Roach said, according to the Philippines Star.
“Give credit to Horn for being a durable fighter. He did what he had to do to try to win. Horn came to fight and why not? It was his big chance to win the world title in front of his countrymen.”
Pacquiao’s Australian strength and conditioning coach also slammed the judges who awarded Sunday’s ‘Battle of Brisbane’ to Jeff Horn as “crazy”, saying the unanimous decision should have gone their way.
Former heavyweight boxer Justin Fortune, who has been working with Pacquiao since 2002, emerged from a sombre dressing room, after Pacquiao failed to attend his scheduled press conference, and made it clear he did not agree with the result.
“The referee was sketchy, the judges were crazy,” Fortune told reporters.
“Manny lost the fight, but Jeff Horn looks like a pumpkin. Those scores, that card? It should be the other way around.
“You can make as many excuses as you’d like — it was a shitty referee, shitty judging. But that’s boxing.
“You get given a gift sometimes, you get screwed sometimes. But when you come to someone’s house you’re supposed to mess them up... never leave it in the judge’s hands.”
Fortune — who predicted Horn would mentally collapse the moment he walked out to the ring — admitted they underestimated the 29-year-old local hope.
“The kid’s got a lot of heart, a lot of balls. We’ll see where he goes from there.
“We knew he would fight nothing like we ever saw him on video, because 50,000 people, it’s your home, you’ll fight.”
Fight commentators around the world did not hold back on their assessment of Horn as a “dirty’ fighter.