Though his biggest payday has walked away, there is no shortage of potential foils for upset-minded WBO Welterweight champion Jeff Horn. Last summer, Horn did the unthinkable and outpointed Manny Pacquiao in a grueling brawl and was all but set to face an embarrassed and shocked Pacquiao this November back in his native Australia. Pacquiao’s political duties in the Filipino senate as well as his own apprehensions about the scoring and officiating of their first fight has caused him to take a pass on the fight, opting to return next year, but Horn is nearly set to move forward.
Horn is apparently in advanced talks with former two-division champion Jessie Vargas who has been inactive since losing a competitive decision to Pacquiao last fall as well as former Junior Welterweight champion Lamont Peterson, both of whom are willing to travel to Australia for the shot. Many had thought that undisputed Junior Welterweight champion Terence Crawford would get the shot, but the likely scenario is that Crawford will take a tune-up fight at Welterweight before moving on to an eventual title shot.
All indications point to Vargas getting the fight, being that Peterson’s affiliation with Premier Boxing Champions would compromise the long-term plans for Top Rank putting a Welterweight title on Crawford, which is an easier proposition if Vargas manages to wrest the belt from Horn. Though Vargas would be an odds on favorite to defeat Horn, even with the layoff, it may not be wise to immediately crown Vargas upon the announcement of the fight.
Vargas may be able to win the fight on his boxing acumen and spee
d alone, but Vargas’ talents only made him competitive at best with a past-prime Pacquiao for up to six rounds. Horn’s physical size and aggressive pressure might be a bad fix for Vargas, who simply doesn’t have the power to keep somebody like Horn off of him unless he were to turn in the perfect fight from bell to bell. Chances are, 2017’s Cinderella Man will close out the year with wins over Pacquiao and Vargas, setting him up for a huge 2018 with marquee matches with Pacquiao and Crawford loom.