Horn turns to Skeete as Pacquiao rematch looks unlikely this year
MANILA, Philippines – With a rematch against Manny Pacquiao looking increasingly unlikely for 2017, Jeff Horn could end up facing Bradley Skeete instead this November in his first defense of the WBO welterweight title.
A report by the Courier-Mail says to “expect a formal announcement within days” regarding Horn’s next fight, with Horn’s manager/trainer Glenn Rushton describing his opponent as a 6’1” Englishman – a description which matches Skeete (27-1, 12 knockouts), the British welterweight champion. The fight would take place November 25 at the Convention Center in Brisbane, Australia, the report says.
Skeete, who like Horn is 29 years old, has made four defenses of the British welterweight title, which he won with a decision over Paul Malignaggi-conqueror Sam Eggington last year. The jab specialist from London is rated number 3 by the WBO and has fought twice this year, handily defeating challengers in June and July. His lone loss came in 2014 when he lost a decision to Frankie Gavin.
Speaking with RingTV, Skeete says “I can confirm my team is in talks with Horn’s team.”
Plans to match Horn (17-0-1, 11 KOs) with Pacquiao a second time fell apart after Queensland state premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced in a statement last week that Pacquiao “will have other commitments at that time” while reiterating the government’s intent to support the fight, whomever the opponent would be.
Pacquiao countered by saying he had not withdrawn consideration for a rematch this year, but wanted to bring the fight to the Philippines.
“We have lots of friends who are supporting us including our tourism [department],” Pacquiao, a Philippine senator, told DZBB radio, adding that Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte “is giving his all-out support.”
An email to Rushton was not responded to by the time of this story’s publication.
Horn, 29, exceeded expectations in his July fight against Pacquiao, winning a unanimous decision in front of a loud Brisbane crowd at Suncorp Stadium to wrest the title belt.
Other names that had been floated as potential replacement foes are Jessie Vargas, whom Pacquiao defeated last year to win the title Horn now holds, and an all-Australia grudge match with 42-year-old Anthony Mundine.
Vargas tells RingTV that he’d welcome the fight.
“He knows where to find me. If he wants to make the fight happen, his people can contact my adviser. I’ll gladly take the belt from him,” said Vargas.