Manny Pacquiao set to defend belt at July fight in Australia

Manny Pacquiao has decided to take his business down under for his return fight this summer.

The only boxer in history to win world titles in eight divisions has agreed to defend his WBO welterweight belt against obscure Australian challenger Jeff Horn. The bout will take place July 2 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane (July 1 in the United States), according to Horn’s promoter Duco Events. 

Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs), who has long built his rock-solid reputation by daringly moving up in weight and taking on difficult challenges, will clearly be taking a softer touch this time around against the 29-year-old Horn (16-0-1, 11 KOs), who has never fought outside Australia or New Zealand. 

Top Rank, Pacquio’s longtime promoter, has developed a strong business relationship of late with Duco Events, which opened the door for the fight to happen. The two companies currently co-promote unbeaten heavyweight titlist Joseph Parker of New Zealand. 

At 38, Pacquiao remains one of the sport’s top pound-for-pound rated boxers, which makes the decision to face Horn so frustrating. After losing to Floyd Mayweather in their high-profile 2015 superfight, Pacquiao has rebounded with strong decision wins over Timothy Bradley Jr. (in their third meeting last April) and Jessie Vargas, regaining a 147-pound title. 

Pacquiao and Horn were in talks earlier this year for an April bout which was shelved when Pacquiao and advisor Michael Koncz entered talks for a bout with welterweight Amir Khan. In the end, the fight fell apart after an unnamed investment group hoping to stage the bout in the United Arab Emirates was unable to come up with the promised $38 million. 

While fights against many of the top welterweights in the world remain difficult to make for Pacquiao because of boxing’s current political climate and the divide between networks and promoters, an in-house showdown between Pacquiao and Top Rank stablemate Terence Crawford continues to be avoided. 

The fight would not only be easy to make, it would present boxing fans with a true “passing of the torch” showdown between the aging legend Pacquiao and the unbeaten junior welterweight champion Crawford, who seems poised for stardom. 

CBS Sports Insider

Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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