By Nick Giongco
If undefeated Australian challenger Jeff Horn believes that Manny Pacquiao is looking past him, he is terribly mistaken.
In fact, Pacquiao, who defends the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight crown for the first time on July 2 in Brisbane, is pumped up to deliver his message to the world – loud and clear.
“Manny is not taking you or this fight lightly,” said Pacquiao adviser Mike Koncz on the scheduled 12-rounder expected to be watched by a capacity crowd of 52,500 at Suncorp Stadium.
“Manny will be prepared like never before and pledged to prove a point to all his fans,” said Koncz, who nonetheless predicted that the 38-year-old eight-division champion will simply be too much for the gutsy but relatively inexperienced Horn.
Horn had expressed hope that Pacquiao would be ripe for the picking by the time they square off in about 10 weeks.
But Koncz insists that Pacquiao remains far from being damaged goods even though he had slowed down a bit the last couple of years.
“Horn will realize that Pacquiao is on a different level…a different world fighting someone like Manny Pacquiao,” added Koncz.
Still, the camp of Pacquiao is not belittling Horn, who is rated second in the 147-lb class by the WBO.
Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach has finalized his travel plans for a six-week training camp with Pacquiao, who is being advised to set up camp Down Under at least 12 days before the fight.
Horn has a 16-0-1 win-loss-draw record with 11 KOs and he secured the title try after stopping Ali Funeka of South Africa last December in Auckland, New Zealand.
Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum was in attendance and was clearly impressed with Horn’s skills despite his being a newcomer and a virtual unknown.
To show that he is not taking Horn for granted, Pacquiao showed up for morning roadwork while the entire country shut down for the Lenten break.
Pacquiao, who boosted his ledger to 58-6-2 with 38 KOs with a masterful win over Jessie Vargas last November in Las Vegas, is heavily favored to shame Horn before his rabid fans.