FOR more than half a century Bob Arum has promoted some of the greatest fights of all time and says with 55,000 people cheering for Jeff Horn, Brisbane’s Fighting Schoolteacher could spring a huge upset over Manny Pacquiao at Suncorp Stadium on July 2.
Arum and Pacquiao will hit Brisbane next week for a whirlwind national promotional tour ahead of the World Boxing Organization welterweight title bout that pits Queensland’s underdog against the 11-time world champion, who is now a prominent Filipino senator.
Pacquiao is being encouraged to wear a NSW Blues rugby league jersey as he prepares for the fight which will take place 10 days before Origin III at the same venue.
Arum, 85, who was Muhammad Ali’s long-time promoter, says he sat gobsmacked at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas in 1978 when Leon Spinks, a veteran of just seven pro fights, took the world heavyweight title from The Greatest in a stunning upset.
He says Horn has the ability to create a similar shock.
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“I watched Horn’s last fight ringside in New Zealand and he’s a very capable young man,” Arum told The Sunday Mail from his home in Las Vegas.
“If his fight with Pacquiao was in Vegas or Madison Square Garden in New York I wouldn’t give him much of a chance because I think nerves would take over against a fighter like Manny.
“But the fact Jeff is going to be fighting in front of so many of his countrymen will calm his nerves and I think he will give a great account of himself.
“I’ve been in this business 51 years and I have presided over some tremendous upsets.
“Manny is a big favourite but in boxing anything can happen and I have seen a lot of big upsets in my time.”
Arum promoted his first fight in 1966 when Ali beat the rugged Canadian George Chuvalo in Toronto in their world heavyweight title fight and he staged such other historic battles as the Ali-Joe Frazier “Thrilla in Manila”, Sugar Ray Leonard against Marvin Hagler, most of Roberto Duran’s epic title fights and – two years ago – the Floyd Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, which was the richest bout in history with nearly $1 billion in revenue.
Arum has promoted in Brisbane before – staging the world light-heavyweight title fight between Grafton’s Jeff Harding and England’s Tom Collins at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre in 1989.
But at 85 he says Pacquiao-Horn will be one of the “signature” bouts of his career.
“The July 2 fight is a huge event,” Arum said. “And I’m so glad that after a long time of negotiations it is coming to Brisbane and the huge stadium you have there.
“Fights like this are what makes the sport so exciting for me after 51 years in boxing. Australia is a great sporting country and to do an event like this for more than 50,000 people in Brisbane is really memorable.”
Originally published as Why Horn can deliver boxing’s greatest upset