Manny Pacquiao vs. Jeff Horn is probably one of the worst kept secrets in the sport. Everybody knows it is going to happen, but as we near closer to the proposed April 22 date with no formal announcement from Top Rank, things are starting to look a little chaotic in trying to get Pacquiao’s walk-off home run off the ground.
Last week, Pacquiao posted on his official Twitter account that his next fight was heading to the United Arab Emirates though did not mentioned Horn as the opponent. Later that week, Pacquiao also posted a fan poll to ask the fans who he should fight next out of Amir Khan, Terence Crawford, Kell Brook or Horn which ended up with Khan received 48% of the votes and Horn a meager 7%.
To add to the confusion, Top Rank President Bob Arum and Horn’s own promoter have said that the fight going to the UAE is not true and they are still trying to hammer down a venue in Brisbane.
So, what the hell is going on?
What we know for sure is that it would be promotional suicide to make Pacquiao/Khan or Pacquiao/Crawford with a little under two months to go and no presumed deals in place, Brook is fighting Errol Spence this May in England, so that pretty much leaves Horn as the opponent.
In the past, Arum used the UAE as a bluff to make it seem that he was working out a deal between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather during the six-year period where both fighters were kept away from each other until their clash in 2015. It could be just as likely that Pacquiao’s team is sending a message to Horn and his team that it is their way or the highway.
As far as the poll is concerned, it could very well be damage control for a fight that has been heavily derided from its initial conception, because nobody in their right minds wants to see Pacquiao fight a part-time school teacher in Australia. Making a poll and saying the only person available to fight is Horn would sway the easy-to-influence Pacquiao fans into accepting the fight and moving on.
Despite Arum’s previous comments the fight could potentially be on free TV, it is looking more likely the fight will be carried by HBO pay-per-view; a mind-boggling decision considering that Horn has had absolutely no exposure to US audiences and Pacquiao’s continuing decline in marketability.
While it may be wishful thinking that Pacquiao/Horn could be called off and either Khan or Crawford could step in for a later date, it is looking more likely the fight is being worked on under the cover of darkness and a kickoff announcement will come out of the blue—just like the actual fight itself.