This could be the end for Manny Pacquiao

This past weekend in Brisbane, Australia a former schoolteacher earned a gritty, close decision over a living legend and sure-fire Hall of Famer. After 12 thrilling rounds at the Suncorp Stadium Manny Pacquiao was relieved of his WBO welterweight title when huge underdog Jeff Horn received the nod from all three scoring judges.

The result has caused uproar in certain circles, with some claiming robbery. We felt Pacquiao just about won the fight, but cannot argue with the result given how close most of the rounds were – so many of them could have gone either way.

A more pressing issue is Pacquiao’s performance. The 38-year-old looked a far cry from the two-fisted tornado who blitzed the likes of Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto back in 2009 (understandable, given that was eight years ago). However he was noticeably worse than he was back in November when he dominated Jessie Vargas.

There were moments of excellence against Horn – for example the ninth round – but even his trainer, Freddie Roach, now admits this could be the end of the line. With a demanding political career and hundreds of millions of dollars in career earnings, Pacquiao might simply have lost his edge. However, he has the right to a rematch with Horn, so only time will tell.

Jeff Horn could be better than we thought

Of course, it wasn’t completely down to Pacquiao’s sub-par performance; Horn turned it into his fight, making things uncomfortable for the Filipino icon and opening nasty cuts on him. He was aggressive and fought with a fervent workrate, making up for any technical shortcomings he may have.

Before the fight he was completely written off as a soft touch for Pacquiao, who was considering a world tour.

Horn’s victory has made him an Australian hero and he is now, of course, world champion. The queue to fight him next will not be short.

Horn’s win helped Mayweather-McGregor

Hear me out. Shortly after the fight, some of those involved in Mayweather-McGregor – such as Mayweather Promotions’ Leonard Ellerbe and McGregor’s trainer John Kavanagh – took to social media to muse over how, in boxing, you just never know. Horn’s implausible win over Pacquiao was just the sort of real-life underdog story they needed as evidence as to why Conor may just stun the sporting world on August 26.

Pacquiao, forever linked with Mayweather due to their 2015 meeting, is old like Floyd and perhaps underestimated an opponent he was universally expected to thrash. Promoters of Mayweather-McGregor will pose the question of what will happen if Floyd does the same (spoiler alert: he won’t).

We’re in for a fun ride with Joshua Buatsi

At the O2 Arena in London light-heavyweight Joshua Buatsi made his highly-anticipated pro debut with an eye-catching stoppage win. Buatsi was an excellent amateur and came out of the Olympics in Rio with a stellar reputation after winning a bronze medal and producing some violent stoppages during the tournament.

As his opponent didn’t fold at the first sign of trouble on Saturday night, we were treated to a decent look at how Buatsi might do in the professional ranks and all the signs were positive. Though he was a little wild at times, he was relentless and powerful. He also went to the body very well; an encouraging trait in a young pro.

There will be a lot of pressure on the Londoner moving forward, and certainly much stiffer tests, but he is an exciting talent.

As Stefy Bull and Josh Wale prove, perseverance is key

On a smaller card in Doncaster, promoter/manager Stefy Bull and bantamweight Josh Wale both proved that nothing beats hard word, belief and determination. Stefy, a former two-weight Central Area champion, moved into promotion in 2012 with no backing but over the years has developed a terrific domestic stable.

This recent show at the Doncaster Dome, a venue he regularly stages shows in, had one British title fight, two English title fights and one Central Area title fight. By all accounts it was a terrific promotion.

One of Bull’s stable, Josh Wale, became British champion at the third try in the main event when he outpointed Jamie Wilson over 12 rounds. Twenty-one years ago, when he was just eight, Wale promised his father he would win the coveted title and this weekend, despite countless setbacks, he made his dream a reality.