Unknown Jeff "The Hornet" Horn shocked Manny "Pac-Man" Pacquiao by a controversial unanimous decision (117-111, 115-113, 115-113), on Sunday at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia, to win the WBO welterweight title.
The 38-year-old Pacquiao's career record fell to 59-7-2 with the loss, and he is now just 5-4 over his past nine outings.
Horn managed to remain undefeated despite being a significant underdog, as the 29-year-old Australian improved to 17-0-1 in front of his home-country fans.
In a hugely controversial decision, the judges awarded Horn the fight even though he came off second-best by almost every measure in front of 50,000 in Brisbane's Lang Park on Sunday.
Pacquiao was cut open by a pair of head clashes, and although he was able to continue the fight, he fell in surprising fashion.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Pacquiao had a clear edge in the punching statistics: which clearly showed that Horn landed just 15 per cent of his shots compared to Manny's 32 per cent, a total of 92 compared to 182.
In the ninth round, the older man appeared to have showed his class.
The Filipino pummeled Horn with a series of excellent shots, leaving the right side of his opponent's face a mess.
Horn was left stumbling around the ring, barely able to raise his hands.
He somehow made it to the end of the round, but the referee immediately came to the Australian's corner and said he wanted to end it there and then if he didn't stabilize, but the referee, perhaps mindful that Horn had been strong up until that point, allowed the fight to continue.
But he was sufficiently worried to warn Horn: "Show me something in the next round or I'm gonna stop the fight."
At that point it looked like Pacquiao was certain to get his first knockout since 2009.
But the brave underdog rallied, continuing to slug it out with Pacquiao and he hung in there long enough to score the massive upset after making it to the end of 12 rounds.
And to the shock of almost everyone watching - the judges awarded the contest to Horn, improving his record to 18-0-1.
He was adjudged the winner over the eight-division world champion by scores of 117-111, 115-113 and 115-113.
Although Horn performed well beyond the expectations of most pundits entering the fight, the overarching narrative was that Pac-Man got robbed.
"I wonder what fight they were watching?" said Stephen A Smith on ESPN.
"There is no excuse for something like this, it hurts the sport of boxing.
"Completely, utterly, bogus."
Jason McIntyre of Fox Sports 1 was among those who felt the decision was a bad look for boxing:
Gary Parrish of CBS Sports echoed those sentiments:
Although both pacquiao and Horn entered the fight with plenty on the line in terms of potentially being able to land bigger fights in the future.
Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, said prior to the bout that he would encourage the Filipino superstar to retire in the event of a loss, according to ABC.net.
Roach also suggested a decisive win was needed in order for Pacquiao to get back to fighting upper-echelon talent:
"We have to win this fight. It is a crucial fight for us. We need to look good in this fight to get the bigger names interested. I expect Manny's best in this fight. I am looking for a big win here. We want to go on to bigger and better things."
Retirement may be a consideration for Pacquiao, but he said following the fight that he would be open to a rematch, per Nine News Australia.
Pac-Man was also respectful in defeat, saying, "He deserves it, no complaint," with regard to Horn's win, according to GMA News Online.
While Horn was considered a lower-level opponent for Pacquiao, there is no question that Pac-Man presented the biggest opportunity of Horn's career.
Per ABS-CBN Sports, Horn discussed the impact he could have on an Australian boxing scene that hasn't gained international acclaim to this point:
"It's definitely massive for Australia, having this fight here in Brisbane, especially. Just having the fight would be a massive boost for Australia. ... If I can win it, it changes Australian boxing big time."
The win will also change Horn's career regardless of its fairness, and it even gave him the confidence to call out Floyd Mayweather Jr. afterward, as seen in this video courtesy of ESPN:
Horn had no shortage of pressure on his shoulders as the fan favorite, but Pacquiao had faced similar situations many times in his career previously.
That experience wasn't enough to overcome Horn, though, which raises the question of whether Pacquiao has enough left in the tank to continue fighting at a high level.
Regardless of Pacquiao's form, Horn scored a career-making victory that should give him plenty of name recognition and big-fight opportunities in the coming years.
By Emmanuel Ndibe
Source: Bleachers report, mirror sports