Horn says he has the plan to beat Manny Pacquiao
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — While Manny Pacquiao has been out running along the river and attracting attention downtown since arriving on a chartered flight with a huge entourage, Jeff Horn has been preparing for their WBO welterweight world title bout in the quiet, outer suburbs.
It's a contrast that suits the 29-year-old former Australian schoolteacher, who is doing everything possible to keep grounded ahead of Sunday's "Battle of Brisbane" against Pacquiao, an 11-time world titlist in eight divisions.
An Olympic quarterfinalist at the 2012 London Games, Horn has built a 16-0-1 record with 11 knockouts since turning pro in 2013. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum saw him take down South African veteran Ali Funeka on the undercard of heavyweight Joseph Parker's WBO world title fight in New Zealand last December and decided Horn was worthy of a shot at the great Pacquiao.
And so with ESPN televising the fight in the United States, and up to 55,000 fans expected at Suncorp Stadium, Horn was asked how he would describe himself to those who may know little of him except that he's taking on Pacquiao.
"I guess I'm a real competitor. I try and treat people the way I like to be treated," he said. "I'm going to get in there hard. I've trained hard for this fight. I'm going to give Manny Pacquiao a really hard fight."
Pacquiao has been in this position plenty of times since turning pro in 1995 and has a 59-6-2 record with 38 knockouts. He has had two wins — on points against Jessie Vargas and Tim Bradley — since his loss to Floyd Mayweather in April 2015 in a bout that generated a world record pay-per-view audience.
Horn reckons his last fight was in front of 1,500 people, and jokes "there's not much difference in the crowd size, is there?"
"Where I've fought before has been in a small location, so the crowd seems louder than it is — kind of echoes in the room," he said. "But to be in a stadium like Suncorp, the Cauldron, who knows. I've never been in a situation like that. The more pressure that's on me for a fight, the better I perform."
The bout is expected to draw an Australian record boxing crowd and is being staged at a venue best known for hosting brutal rugby league matches in the State of Origin series between Horn's Queensland and New South Wales.
The Queenslanders have dominated the annual series for the last decade, and Horn is drawing on that in his preparations. He sat in the capacity crowd for a recent rugby league match to get a feel for what it could be like.
"It's the dream location to fight," Horn said. "I'm a Queenslander. Born in Brisbane. All things that I'd go to are at Suncorp Stadium — all the massive events. To be fighting there myself, and be center of attention for that event. It's mind-blowing for me."
Horn's long-time trainer, Glenn Rushton, has devised a 10-point plan by analyzing Pacquiao's fights against Mayweather, Vargas and Bradley, and thinks Horn is capable of producing an upset win.
"I said to him, follow the plan and we win the fight, simple as that," Rushton said.
Horn only needed the weekend to commit it to memory, and is confident it can be a recipe for success.
"It's a plan ... I've heard him speak to me about 1,000 times, so reading over it is just like listening to him talk to me in the ring," Horn said. "What he's written down is spot on. We can get the job done if I can follow it."