Jeff Horn, left, and Manny Pacquiao trade punches during their WBO welterweight title fight on Sunday afternoon in Brisbane, Australia. (Patrick Hamilton / AFP / Getty Images)
The finger-pointing over Manny Pacquiao’s loss to Australia’s Jeff Horn in a WBO welterweight title fight continues, and it’s not just aimed at the dubious judging and refereeing.
While Pacquiao’s veteran promoter, Bob Arum, and manager, Michael Koncz, thought referee Mark Nelson allowed Horn far too many liberties by punching Pacquiao while holding him and placing him in headlocks, both men said they expected more objections from Pacquiao’s longtime cornerman and trainer, Freddie Roach.
“What the hell is wrong with that corner? Why wasn’t Freddie Roach out in the ring between rounds yelling at the referee? It’s his job,” said Arum, who also blamed assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez, who speaks Tagalog, and cut man Miguel Diaz. “And there’s confusion in the corner with the languages, with Buboy and Miguel Diaz yelling and screaming like a maniac.
“And Freddie has to stay close to Manny to give him some advice … to me, they were so overconfident going in — [conditioning coach] Justin Fortune tells the press that the only way Horn can win is if Manny trips going into the ring. I had seen the kid. I told everybody he was a big, tough kid who could take a punch. I didn’t think he’d beat Manny, but it wasn’t the same Manny.”
Roach was critical of the refereeing and judging after the fight, as were members of ESPN’s broadcast team. Roach called for an investigation of judge Waleska Roldan of New York, who awarded Horn a 117-111 (nine rounds to three) scorecard while turning in just his third world-title bout scorecard since June 2016.
While Koncz said Floyd Mayweather Jr. personally told Pacquiao that he wasn’t interested in a rematch of their record-selling but disappointing 2015 meeting, Pacquiao was being pointed to a meeting later this year against unbeaten junior-welterweight champion Terence Crawford.
Given Crawford’s skill, that fight projects now as a one-sided triumph for Crawford after Horn (17-0-1), a 2012 Olympian, landed some heavy punches against Pacquiao.
“First, I have to find out if Manny wants to continue fighting,” said Arum, who acknowledged Pacquiao has a heavy workload as a senator in the Philippines. “There were some troubling signs. I said sitting there ringside, ‘This is not the Manny Pacquiao that we had even a year ago.’ You can’t be a senator and fight part-time. And he’s getting older, not younger.”
Koncz said he’ll travel to Manila later this week to huddle with Pacquiao, the former seven-division champion who turns 39 in December.
“We’re not sure he’s ever going to fight again,” Koncz said. “I told Manny before the fight that if things didn’t happen, we would sit down and make decisions on what we need to do.
“The corner didn’t have a strategy. They were all amazed Jeff Horn was such a tough, rugged fighter and they didn’t adapt to it. There’s a lot of blame to go around, but the bottom line is the kid had a lot of heart and came to win and did everything he could to get it, and the referee let him do more than he should have.”
Arum and Koncz said the World Boxing Organization should also scrutinize the scoring abilities of Roldan.
“If we go back to Australia, I’ll be more involved with the promotion and the selection of the judges and referee,” Koncz said. “I relied heavily on the WBO. Everybody can be blamed for everything for this. If we do have a rematch, there’s got to be a lot of changes.”
A return to Australia for a late-fall rematch is a possibility after a record crowd attended this first meeting in Brisbane and ESPN reported its highest boxing ratings in more than 20 years, with more than 3.1 million viewers.
“That’s good,” Arum said of the heightened interest after the questionable outcome. “The states in Australia are already beginning to bid crazy numbers to have this fight in November-December. The interest is sky-high.”