By Keith Idec
Jeff Horn’s trainer thinks a ghost from Manny Pacquiao’s pugilistic past can help Horn come fight night.
Glenn Rushton said during a conference call Tuesday night that Pacquiao isn’t the same fighter he was before Juan Manuel Marquez knocked the Filipino icon unconscious in the sixth round of their fourth fight 4½ years ago. The 38-year-old Pacquiao is 5-1 since his longtime rival knocked him out and has lost only to undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. during that stretch.
Rushton suggested, however, that once Horn hits Pacquiao on Sunday at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia, the heavily favored WBO welterweight champion will have flashbacks to that frightening night in December 2012.
“That KO against Marquez, that stone-cold KO, that takes something out of a fighter,” Rushton said. “To be knocked out cold like that, that’s gotta be haunting him. That’s gotta be there, in the back of his mind. He’s fighting a young, hungry lion here, bigger than him, a guy that’s technically very good, that made the quarterfinals at the Olympics, that won three nationals as an amateur. So he knows he’s technically good, he knows he’s tough, he knows he’s got a great chin.
“He knows all this and he’s come off, not too long ago, that KO loss to Marquez. So I think that’s gonna haunt him a little bit. When he gets hit by Jeff’s power, I think that’s gonna change things. So I think there will be a time in this fight when there’ll be a change and he’ll sense he’s got a very young guy that’s very tough and he’s gonna struggle. So that’s our belief. Yes, we love being the underdog. It’s terrific, it takes a lot of pressure off Jeff. And at the end of the day, Manny Pacquiao’s just a man. As great as he is, he is just a man. So when we get out there on the night, it’ll just come down to who wants it the most. One thing’s for sure – I can assure you there’s no one in the world that wants this more than Jeff Horn.”
Later during the conference call, Pacquiao and his trainer, Freddie Roach, disputed that Pacquiao was a different fighter following that dramatic defeat to Mexico’s Marquez in their fourth fight.
“For me, nothing changed,” Pacquiao said. “I mean, it’s the same. I’m still a boxer, I’m still a fighter. The change is I became a politician.”
Roach agreed with Pacquiao, who went 2-0-1 against Marquez (56-7-1, 40 KOs) in their first three fights, all of which were extremely competitive.
“You know, Marquez, it happened,” Roach said. “Manny stepped in … lost his balance, took a good right hand. And I thought since that fight he’s fought wonderful. … That fight just motivates Manny to get better for every fight. We’re waiting for him to give us a rematch and he won’t give us one. So we’re with Jeff Horn right now.”
Marquez will turn 44 on August 23. He fought just twice after knocking out Pacquiao and hasn’t boxed since he out-pointed Mike Alvarado in their 12-round fight in May 2014.
The bout between Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) and Australia’s Horn (16-0-1, 11 KOs), the No. 1 contender for Pacquiao’s championship, will be broadcast live by ESPN in the United States on Saturday night (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.