Jeff Horn admits he was left shocked by some of Manny Pacquiao’s controversial views on homosexuality and the death penalty and wants to remind n fans who exactly should be the good guy when they meet in the ring on July 2.
Promoters of the fight have ensured top-shelf access to Pacquiao for n media, with a rush of stories about the WBO welterweight champion helping to promote their title fight at Suncorp Stadium.
Most of the questionable utterances by the Filipino Senator were off-limits but they are well-known. Pacquiao, a conservative Christian, once likened homosexuals to being “worse than animals” and supported the recently re-imposed death penalty for drug-related crimes.
Horn, who completed a strong sparring session in Brisbane on Friday, said he was happy for everyone to live their lives as they see fit but had started to wonder who would be the fan favourite when they meet given Pacquiao’s celebrity.
“To some people he’s going to be seen as a bad guy, some people will like him for it [his views]. You can never please everybody with what you say. Hopefully here – I know he probably won’t be – but hopefully he’s more of a bad guy than I am. I hope in my hometown that’s the case,” Horn said.”I was [shocked by his views]. Even if he thought it, I’m shocked he came out with it. Being in the role he is, being a public figure, maybe he can get away with that. I don’t really get into that type of thing. People can do what people want to do. It’s everyone’s own life.”
Pacquiao is a complex figure who has been hugely generous with his millions to his nation’s poor while at the same time garnering critics for his stance on social and legal issues.
Horn understands his role in the lead-up to the bout and has been happy to let the champion take the starring role in the prelude to the fight, which stands to sell out Suncorp Stadium.
“Manny is the selling point of the fight. I’m hoping to be the selling point after the fight when I beat him. He can have all of the attention now, I expect to have it after the fight. I’m a challenger, I’m not the title holder. He deserves the respect and the majority of the attention,” Horn said.
Horn was on hand for the opening State of Origin on Wednesday night and couldn’t help but imagine his ring walk at the famous rugby league venue. He will enter the arena first, with The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army pounding from the speakers.
“I was picturing it packed … even more packed than it was. I was picturing it full of people and being in the middle of that, what it would look and sound like,” Horn said.
“I have imagined it. That’s one thing you really have to picture, hearing the crowd and what it will feel like. I’m trying to keep my nerves down because we’re still four weeks out. But that’s very exciting to think about.
“Being at a place like Suncorp, I’ve been there so many times. I’ve had the opportunity to stand in the middle and to imagine the sounds and sights. It will be great.”
Reports from Manila are suggesting Pacquiao has dramatically upped his intensity in training and sparring, prompting trainer Freddie Roach to suggest he was capable of knocking out Horn whenever he felt the urge. Pacquiao hasn’t stopped an opponent since 2009.
But Roach has also started to detect a higher threat level from Horn than previously thought. Initially, the Pacquiao camp had labelled this bout little more than a fly-in, fly-out cash grab to Queensland.
“It’s always nice to hear that they’re finally taking me a bit more seriously, not coming here for an easy $10 million, knock me over and think about the next fight. That’s all I see on the internet – what’s Manny’s next fight.
“Well, he’s got to get through me first. He mightn’t want to fight again.”