After ending a brief retirement with a one-sided unanimous decision over Jessie Vargas, Manny Pacquiao is set to return to the ring again on April 22nd. His opponent isn't named Mayweather nor is his last name Crawford.
As a matter of fact, unless you're the most hardcore of hardcore boxing fan, you haven't a clue who Australia's Jeff Horn is. "The Hornet" punched his ticket to potentially face #MannyPacquiao after knocking out Ali Funeka on the undercard of the December 10 showdown between Joseph Parker and Andy Ruiz Jr. The 2012 Australian Olympian will now leapfrog other worthy competition to face one of the greatest fighters of our generation.
So, who the heck is #JeffHorn?
That's a pretty good question.
The 28-year-old turned pro in 2013 after competing for his home country in the Summer 2012 Olympics. He's currently unbeaten with a record of 16-0-1 with 11 knockouts. He's never fought in the states but impressed Top Rank's Bob Arum with his knockout of Funeka.
"I thought he was a really rugged guy. He's a good fighter," Arum told ESPN. "Does he beat Manny? Probably not, but he's going to give him a good fight. He has a very pleasing personality."
Initially, Arum was interested in pairing Horn with Vargas or Timothy Bradley before making a fight with Pacquiao. However, Arum found that the Australian fans were interested in the fight as well as those in the Middle East. With Pacquiao not getting any younger, the fight made sense. As far as a location goes, the fight will take place in either in Brisbane, Australia or United Arab Emirates -- Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Either location will likely draw a lot more fans than in the United States, where Pacquiao's last fight with Jessie Vargas ended up being the least watched Pacquiao fight since he faced David Diaz in 2008.
"Why crap around with putting him in with a Vargas or Bradley," Arum said. "Why? Maybe it will enhance the number of pay-per-view buys in the United States? Maybe it won't. Maybe the fight won't even be a pay-per-view in the United States. Why screw around with bringing him to the United States and fighting Bradley and Vargas? Why? Where? HBO has no money."
Arum stated that there was "no incentive" to find a bigger name for Pacquiao to fight and with the Filipino's purse demands being reasonable, they would be able to press forward without needing huge numbers from an American pay-per-view audience. For his previous fight, Top Rank produced their own pay-per-view event that included ESPN's Stephen A. Smith on commentary.
Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) is currently a senator in the Philippines and can only box during a recess. Prior to facing Vargas, Pacquiao admitted that it was challenging to train and serve in the Senate at the same time. That likely contributed to finding an opponent that wasn't on the level of a Terence Crawford, who many fight fans feel deserves the opportunity to face Pacquiao. Instead, Pacquiao's boxing schedule will revolve around his Senatorial duties and he will embark on what Arum calls a "world tour."
"My goal is to have Pacquiao fight as many times as we can get away from the senate duties as possible," Arum said. "So the idea is if he fights in April and he stays in boxing shape we can fight perhaps again in July. We have an offer in Russia. And then we have an offer and would be interested in fighting (fellow welterweight titleholder) Kell Brook in England in probably October. That's a big fight."
It is possible that the fight with Vargas -- which drew a paltry 300k pay-per-view buys -- was the last time Pacquiao will fight in the United States. At the age of 38, there aren't many fights left in the first and only eight-division world champion. This could very well be the beginning of his farewell tour.