It went all the way and ended in a contentiously bitter loss, the opposite of the outcome Manny Pacquiao's handlers predicted for his WBO welterweight world title fight against Jeff Horn. Pacquiao's long-time trainer Freddie Roach tipped a "short and sweet" knockout win for the 11-time world champion in Sunday's so-called Battle of Brisbane, but Horn got a unanimous points decision in his first world title fight—delighting the 51,000-strong crowd at his hometown Suncorp Stadium, a record for Australian boxing. The 38-year-old Philippines senator arrived in Brisbane a week ahead of the fight with a chartered plane carrying more than a hundred supporters and as the hot favorite to beat Horn, reports the AP. He leaves without the WBO belt. All three judges awarded it to Horn, with Waleska Roldan scoring it 117-111 and both Chris Flores and Ramon Cerdan scoring it 115-113.
Some critics slammed it as a hometown decision, saying statistics had Pacquiao landing twice the number of power punches as Horn. "That's the decision of the judges. I respect that," Pacquiao was quoted as saying by ESPN. "We have a rematch clause, so no problem." But Pacquiao's conditioning trainer, former Australian heavyweight Justin Fortune, was critical of the referee and the judging. "Manny lost the fight, but Jeff Horn looks like a pumpkin. Those scores, that card? It should be the other way," he said. Roach had said earlier in the week that he'd think about advising Pacquiao to retire if he lost the fight, but they're already considering a rematch. Pacquiao's camp had talked about a rematch with Mayweather if he got past Horn, hoping to avenge his loss on points in the 2015 mega fight. That seems to be a distant chance now.