BRISBANE'S "Fighting Schoolteacher” Jeff Horn has started training to face all-time great Manny Pacquiao at Suncorp Stadium in April in the biggest fight ever staged in Australia.
Following the Courier-Mail's exclusive on plans to bring Pacquiao to Brisbane, the legendary Filipino boxer's promoter said there was now a "good possibility” Horn would be the next opponent for the 67kg world champ.
Promoter Bob Arum wants to take Pacquiao on a world tour of fights in the latter stages of his career as he did with Muhammad Ali, another of the boxers he promoted.
Pacquiao, 38, had demanded $US20 million to fight world 63kg champ Terence Crawford in America in April but Arum said yesterday that Crawford was now out of the picture and that there was "a good possibility” Pacquiao's next opponent would be the unbeaten 28-year-old from Acacia Ridge.
Horn, who only took up boxing 10 years ago to defend himself against bullies, is thrilled with the news.
"Fighting Pacquiao would be a dream come true,” he said.
"He's an awesome boxer but I believe I can take his world title.”
Arum said Brisbane was competing with England, the Middle East and Mexico to host Pacquiao's next fight but Horn's promoter Dean Lonergan will be in Los Angeles this weekend to hammer out a deal he hopes will allow Suncorp Stadium to host the historic bout.
Horn's trainer, multi-millionaire investor Glenn Rushton, said despite Horn's comparative inexperience - 17 pro fights to Pacquiao's 67 - he would take the world title opportunity "absolutely, straight away”.
"We'd fight Pacquiao next week if Bob Arum wants it,” Rushton said.
"Obviously it would have been nice for Jeff to have had a couple more fights against top opponents for the experience but sometimes in life you have to seize the opportunity when it comes.
"If the fight can be made at Suncorp Stadium it will be massive. To have a real genuine legend of the sport - one of the greatest boxers of all time coming to Brisbane to defend his world title - it would be the biggest boost boxing has had in Australia for decades.”
Rushton said Horn had the speed and power to overcome Pacquiao.
"It would be a thrilling fight because of their busy styles, but we have the plan and Jeff is the right fighter to carry out the plan,” he said. "They both fight with a lot of variation, very efficient, great angles, high work rates - but Jeff is bigger, younger, fresher and stronger.
"We watched Pacquiao's last win over Jessie Vargas and Pacquiao was able to pick him off all night because Vargas stood right in front of him for the whole fight. Jeff would be totally different - he would be hunting Pacquiao in every round. Jeff can adapt all the time, change the angles, change the tempo and rhythm of a fight.
"Pacquiao has been knocked out and Jeff is a very heavy puncher. He's extremely tough and he's not afraid to mix it up.”
In his last fight Horn scored a sixth-round stoppage of South Africa's world No. 8 Ali Funeka in Auckland on December 10.
Arum said Horn was "a terrific fighter” with "movie-star looks” and that the boxing world was crying out for a fighter like him - "a schoolteacher who can fight; every delinquent kid in the world will take notice”.
Arum originally had Horn pencilled in to fight Pacquiao late in 2017 but is now keen on him being the first opponent in Pacquiao's planned worldwide farewell to the fight game after 22 years in the sport.
Horn, a cousin of Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, is the No.2 contender for Pacquiao's WBO world welterweight title. Pacquiao has already beaten No.1-ranked Tim Bradley and No.3 Jessie Vargas, who are both former world champs.