FREE OFFER: Promoter Bob Arum looms in the background as Manny Pacquiao handles a press conference.
FREE OFFER: Promoter Bob Arum looms in the background as Manny Pacquiao handles a press conference. STRINGER

Horn is no ordinary Joe despite US commentators' slip-up

ESPN's First Take panellists Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman know their boxing.

Kellerman has been a mainstay on HBO's boxing coverage for years, while Smith was part of the broadcast team for Manny Pacquiao's last fight against Jessie Vargas in Las Vegas.

But even someone as knowledgeable as Smith needed reminding about Australian welterweight contender Jeff Horn.

The duo were discussing the upcoming "Battle of Brisbane” between Horn and Pacquiao on July 2 at Suncorp Stadium with Pacquiao's promoter Bob Arum, only for Smith to have an unfortunate case of mistaken identity relating to Horn.

"Here's my question,” Smith began. "Pacquiao against Joe Horn, now I know Joe Horn is a respectable guy.”

"Jeff, Jeff, Jeff ...” Arum interjected.

"Jeff, I apologise,” Smith quickly stated.

Smith was making the point he believed Pacquiao was too great a name for Horn, and intimated that the Filipino legend should be in a more high-profile fight with more well-known fighters - something he feels Horn is not.

"I think about (Manny) Pacquiao, I only think about (Floyd) Mayweather,” Smith said. "I also think about the young lions in this game. The Terrence Crawfords of the world, the Errol Spence Juniors of the world, the Kell Brooks of the world.”

Legendary promoter Arum used the appearance on First Take to reveal the Horn-Pacquiao fight will be shown live for free worldwide (except in Australia) on ESPN, in a move to generate new interest in Pacquiao and build his brand towards a future fight with the "big name” Smith suggests.

Pacquiao's last fight against Jessie Vargas was also not shown on pay-per-view and was held at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, rather than a more lucrative on-strip casino venue.

It shows the Pacquiao brand is not as strong as it once was - but the hope is the Horn showdown will rectify that.

"This is the first fight that Manny has had that's been on free-to-air television, thanks to ESPN,” Arum said. "He hasn't had a fight in 11 years that people haven't paid for.

"His last fight was on HBO (US cable channel). This is an opportunity for the public to become re-acquainted with Manny Pacquiao. It will have a tremendous audience and he's fighting a really good, tough kid in Jeff Horn.

"If he beats Horn and if he looks good beating Horn, then down the road there's Terrence Crawford, there's Spence - he goes into those fights.

"But those fights are very expensive and we can't do them on free television, we have to do them on pay-per-view. We have to pay what the fighters would want in a fight like that.”

While the world will enjoy the Pacquiao-Horn welterweight showdown for free, Australian fans will have to pay $59.95 for the privilege on Main Event pay-per-view.

But there's added incentive for the Australian. The worldwide audience could yet prove an excellent springboard for Horn to make a name for himself overseas, particularly in the United States, given the fight will be held just before a big US holiday (Independence Day).

Arum revealed that with the fight being underwritten in part by Queensland Tourism (Queensland Government and Queensland Tourism and Events), there was less pressure on promoters to offer the fight as a pay-per-view overseas to fill coffers.

"This fight (against Horn), because of the Tourist Board, because of the Queensland Tourist Minister we are being subsidised by the government in Australia - there'll be close to 60,000 people in attendance and we can therefore afford to show this fight for free.

"(It will be) The July 4 weekend (in America) gift, thanks to ESPN and Manny Pacquiao.”

Horn can put a dent in future plans for both Top Rank and Team Pacquiao, but also land himself another marquee date - with Arum confirming a potential future fight between Terrence Crawford and Pacquiao is all part of the plan.

"Absolutely Terrence (Crawford) wants Manny Pacquiao,” Arum said.

"Terrence wants the best. Terrence told me he wants (Manny) Pacquiao, (Errol) Spence and (Keith) Thurman.”

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