A rematch between Jeff Horn and Manny Pacquiao appears to be close to confirmed, with a promise to both camps set to fix any potential judging discrepancies.
Top Rank's CEO Bob Arum has confirmed both fighters “are pretty much there” on a deal for a rematch which is expected to again take place in Australia, and just need to iron out some finer details.
One of the major sticking points, however, has already been cleared by the warring parties — and it relates to Horn’s controversial victory in July to capture the World Boxing Organization welterweight championship.
According to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Mannix, Arum asked for judges names to “be fully vetted by both sides” before the rematch.
Mannix reports that Arum wants all neutral judges this time around.
In July before a crowd of 51,000 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Horn was awarded a 117-111, 115-113, 115-113 unanimous decision victory which sparked furious reaction among many fans - in particular by the ESPN broadcast team and lead commentator Teddy Atlas, who told Horn to his face immediately after the fight that he thought the 38-year-old Pacquiao had won the fight, a view he hasn’t wavered on since.
The World Boxing Organization held an independent investigation and made a ruling that backed Horn's decision win.
There was a rematch clause in the contract, which Pacquiao exercised to get the immediate second fight. His longtime trainer, Hall of Fame coach Freddie Roach, would like to see the boxer go forward with the Horn rematch and then retire from the sport.
Neutral judges would appease Pacquiao’s camp, leaving the fight's venue as the last key detail to be crossed off.
The fight is expected to once again take place in Australia, but a return to Suncorp Stadium is unlikely given the rematch is likely to take place on a date in November.