Win and win well. That is the target for Manny Pacquiao when he steps into the ring to defend his WBO welterweight title belt against Jeff Horn in Brisbane, Australia this weekend.
Horn is completely overmatched; bookmakers 188BET have Pacquiao priced at 1.14 for victory – with the Australian at 5.50 – and this can only be viewed as a stepping stone for the Filipino great.
The stepping stone may not lead to the place he wants to reach, namely a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jnr, but to stand any chance of getting there he must put on a show against Horn. That is the view of many pundits, and Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach.
“He wants a re-match with Mayweather,” Roach told Sky News. “To get Mayweather, you have to look good.
“Against Horn, he’s got to look good, he has to be impressive.”
Roach is convinced his charge will put away the unbeaten Horn with the minimum of fuss.
“I think it’s going to be short and sweet,” Roach said. “If our opponent comes out like he says he’s going to, Manny will fire back and I think it’s going to be great fight [but] it won’t last too long. And someone will get knocked out.”
Mayweather is busying himself with promotion and preparation for his fight with UFC superstar Conor McGregor – a contest that is expected to break all box office records and net Mayweather a fortune.
Money is the motivating factor for Mayweather and in order to stand any chance of securing a rematch, Pacquiao will have to prove he is capable of drawing in a crowd.
Their first fight proved to be a damp squib, with Pacquiao unable to operate at his best on account of a shoulder injury – which handed Mayweather a comfortable route to a points win.
A similar contest would not draw in anywhere near the numbers Mayweather would want, so it is up to Pacquiao to prove his 38-year-old body still has what it takes to dine at the top table.
In his wins over Timothy Bradley and Jessie Vargas, which followed his loss to Mayweather two years ago, Pacquiao has been workmanlike rather than impressive.
The explosiveness of old, the sort of punching power that did for Ricky Hatton and Juan Manuel Marquez earlier in his career, needs to come to the fore. With that in mind, it may be worth having a punt on Pacquiao knocking out Horn between rounds four and six – which is available to back at 8.00.