By Edward Chaykovsky
One of the most popular fighters in Australian boxing history, former world champion and Hall of Famer Jeff Fenech, believes his countryman Jeff Horn (16-0-1, 11 KOs) has a real shot at defeating WBO welterweight champ Manny Pacquiao on April 22.
On Wednesday, a press conference took place in Australia where Horn announced that a deal was reached to fight Pacquiao in April. The location has yet to be finalized, but Brisbane in Australia is the leading candidate.
Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank and Horn’s backer Dean Lonergan of Duco Events were hammering out the terms on Monday and Tuesday. Arum's company also completed a deal last month with Duco to co-promote Horn.
Horn had his three most significant opponents last year and stopped all three of them - Randall Bailey, Rico Mueller and Ali Funeka. Two of them, Bailey and Funeka, were former world champions but they were also far beyond their best days.
None of Horn's opponents were even close to Pacquiao's level. Many insiders are already calling the fight a mismatch and believe Horn is taking this contest way too soon.
Fenech is not in agreement with the experts - he believes Horn can win, and the veteran explained exactly what's needed to get that job done.
“I’m going to say do what you always do, Jeff, but today we’ve got to do it better than ever before,” Fenech told Fox Sports News 500. “We can’t give Manny Pacquiao any room. He is hittable, we’ve seen him get hit, we’ve seen him get hurt. You can’t give Manny space because if he hits you he’ll hurt you — the fight’s over, he will finish you off.
“Nullify the space totally. Hopefully I will get a call from those guys if the fight goes ahead, I’d love to have a talk to his trainer, have a talk to Jeff Horn because the only way to beat Manny is to give him no space at all. He’s still got that great speed but he’s ageing and he’s shown that in his last fight again he’s still got that amazing power. To nullify that, Jeff has got to be on his chest, make angles, punch in close and wear him out. Jeff has that size and strength advantage to wear Manny Pacquiao out.”
After he retired from active fighting, Fenech started training fighters. One of those fighters, Nedal Hussein, was knocked out by Pacquiao in 2000 in a fight for the WBC super bantamweight title.
That was a long time ago and Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) has not scored a knockout since 2009 and he's lost three of his last eight fights - but the fighters who beat him were all future Hall of Famers with far more experience than Horn.
“Manny has gone on to do some huge, bigger and better things but I also think he’s a little a bit on the decline,” Fenech said. “Once you get hit and hurt you’re never the same. And I just believe Jeff Horn has the style to beat any fighter in the world.
“He has the Jeff Fenech tenacity. If Jeff Horn fights the right fight and doesn’t give Manny space I do honestly believe, and I’m not just saying that because I’m an Aussie and I like Jeff Horn, I honestly believe Jeff Horn has the right style to upset Manny Pacquiao if he fights the right fight.”