SYDNEY — Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao failed to defend his WBO welterweight world title on Sunday against Australian unknown Jeff Horn, in one of the most astounding upsets in recent boxing history.
Horn gave a tough and bloody fight, and despite Pacquiao landing far more punches, Horn was given the win by the judges in a unanimous point decision, by scores of 117-111, 115-113, 115-113.
“A star has been born,” the announcer said, after Horn was named the winner at the end of a brutal 12 round fight, dubbed the “Battle of Brisbane,” in front of 50,000 people at the Suncorp Stadium in the Australian city.
But the decision quickly ignited controversy.
“They gave a trophy to Horn, a local kid, for trying hard. You are not supposed to get it for trying hard – you are supposed to get it for winning,” Teddy Atlas, a boxing trainer and fight commentator, said after the match.
He also said Pacquiao had landed more cleaner punches.
For Horn, a 29-year-old former school teacher, it was the biggest fight in his professional career. Until Sunday, he was inexperienced on the global stage, though undefeated in 17 total professional contests, winning 16, with 11 in knockouts, and drawing once.
He first took up boxing after he was bullied as a teenager and he represented Australia as an amateur at the 2012 Olympics in London, reaching the quarter-finals as a light-welterweight.
Pacquiao, meanwhile has been the world champion 11 times, across eight divisions, winning 59 games, of which 38 were in knockouts.
Sunday was the first loss for him since losing to Floyd Mayweather in the 2015 mega bout in Las Vegas. Pacquiao was defending the WBO title he won on points against Jessie Vargas in November.
“It was tough. I didn’t expect (he would be) that tough,” Pacquiao, who is also a Filipino senator, said after the match. “It is part of the game. It was a decision of the judges and I respect that.”
Horn, touted as the Australian “Rocky” by local media, immediately challenged Floyd Mayweather to a fight in the post-match interview.
He also declared himself “no joke,” saying the boxing experts across the world had given him no chance and had mocked his credentials.
“I have just believed since I was very young that I could do this,” Horn said after lifting the belt in front of a packed hometown crowd.
“I thought in those opening couple of rounds that I was out-boxing him in the first half of that fight… (Pacquiao) did catch me a couple of times but I felt I bounced back straight away.”
For the most part, Horn, who towered over Pacquiao, was able to avoid Pacquiao’s devastating left hand, his knockout weapon.