Manny Pacquiao is headed to the “Worldwide Leader.”
Pacquiao's (59-6-2, 38 KOs) July 1 World Boxing Organization 147-pound title defense against Australian Jeff Horn (16-0-1, 11 KOs) will air live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes. The news was announced Monday by ESPN and Pacquiao's promoter, Top Rank.
Pacquiao-Horn takes place at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia, with organizers predicting a sellout crowd of over 55,000. Though the card airs on pay-per-view in Australia, it will be Pacquiao's first time fighting on basic cable in the West; Pacquiao's last non-PPV fight in North America was in September 2005, when he knocked out Hector Velasquez on HBO.
“Working with Top Rank on a match normally seen on pay-per-view is a significant moment for ESPN and for boxing fans,” said ESPN President John Skipper. “This fight, along with ESPN’s in-depth programming surrounding the fight, joins Wimbledon, Home Run Derby and the ESPYs in a stellar early July programming lineup.”
Longtime ESPN boxing commentators Joe Tessitore and color commentator Teddy Atlas will call the fights, along with former world titleholder -- and Pacquiao rival -- Timothy Bradley Jr. in the third analyst's chair.
“The world has followed amazing Manny since he burst onto the scene in his U.S. debut in 2001, where he knocked out Lehlo Ledwaba to win his second of a record eight division world titles," Arum said in the press release. “We are excited that ESPN will air this fight throughout the U.S. in both English and Spanish. It's going to be an unbelievable event.” The 38-year-old Pacquiao bounced back from his May 2015 superfight loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. by winning his rubber match with the aforementioned Tim Bradley in April 2016. “Pac-Man” then outpointed Jessie Vargas this past November to pick up his WBO welterweight trinket.
Horn, 29, represented Australia at the 2012 London Olympic Games before turning pro in March 2013. His breakout win came in December, knocking out South African veteran Ali Funeka in the sixth round in his native Brisbane.
The July 1 card, dubbed “The Battle of Brisbane,” is the first in a series of Top Rank-promoted events scheduled to air on ESPN. The second edition is slated for Aug. 5, where rising pound-for-pound star Vasyl Lomachenko will look to avenge his lone professional loss, defending his WBO world 126-pound title against Orlando Salido.
« Previous Opinion: No Denying Greatness of Floyd Mayweather Jr. Next Manager: McGregor an Apparel ‘Free Agent,’ Not Tied to Reebok for Mayweather Bout »