By Ray Wheatley – World of Boxing
In his book “The Hornet,” WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn has revealed the dirty tactics used by the Pacquiao camp in the lead-up to the July 2 WBO championship battle against boxing legend Manny Pacquiao at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. Horn told Grantlee Kieza that Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach did everything he possibly could to rattle Horn in the minutes before the fight and then – throughout the contest – Pacquiao continually talked to Horn during the fight, trying to confuse him with instructions normally delivered by the referee.
About 90 minutes before he was due to fight Pacquiao, there was a heated altercation over the tape used to cover the gauze on his hands. Trainer Glenn Rushton was wrapping Horn’s fists in the time-honored practice that fighters go through before a bout to stop their hands breaking.
“We were using a tan-colored tape that would not have raised eyebrows anywhere else in the world,” Horn said. “But Freddie Roach who was watching on in our dressing room – more to unsettle our team than to ensure everything was above board – insisted that only white tape be used and that was the rule in world title fights. This was a new one on us but the local boxing commission supervisor accepted this claim, despite the rules of the WBO not saying anywhere that the tape had to be white.
“My brother Ben, who works my corner, laughed at the idea that we had to change tape because of the colour and Freddie, who is notorious for playing mind games with opponents, exploded with anger, using a series of expletives that would have earned him a lengthy suspension if he’d been in my classroom.
“Freddie’s performance was farcical and unprofessional. He became unhinged when Ben niggled him further and he threatened to punch on there and then with my brother. I know Freddie was a pretty good lightweight in his day, but if they’d come to blows my money was on Ben. I sat through Freddie’s tirade impassively and, because Glenn didn’t want to cause any further upset for me, he agreed to change the tape.”
“The level to which they stooped in trying to rattle me was quite extraordinary and I would love to fight a rematch with Manny to put an exclamation mark on my victory at Suncorp,” Horn said.
“While the tape kerfuffle was going on, my cutman and great friend Stephen Edwards was preparing adrenaline to use on any wounds that I might suffer in the title fight. Adrenaline is a coagulant that stops the bleeding. Based on a 12-round bout, and knowing that there was a massive chance of head clashes, Stephen prepped around 30 vials of adrenaline. This involves breaking tiny 1-millilitre vials of liquid into sealed containers for use at ringside.
“Around 10 minutes before we were to go out to the ring, Stephen was summoned by a local commission official, to say that Pacquiao had lodged a formal complaint about him preparing the adrenaline in the dressing room rather than at ringside.
“A big argument broke out, with the Pacquiao camp saying that they couldn’t tell if Stephen was really using adrenaline. Stephen said that this was bull, that if they had an allegation to make they should make it to the World Anti-Doping Agency, and they could take a sample and get it tested.
“After five minutes of finger-pointing and chest-thumping from the Pacquiao team, the official ruled that Stephen had to tip all the carefully prepared adrenaline down the sink. Stephen asked if there was a specific rule that said the adrenaline vials could only be broken ringside as he had never heard of this rule. The official said there was, but his voice and facial expression showed uncertainty and he was obviously bluffed by Freddie and the Pacquiao team.
“We’ve checked since and there was no such rule.
“I guess Freddie Roach thought we would have no adrenaline left and would be unable to repair any damage to me once the fight began because there was no hope of sourcing any adrenaline so close to fight time.
“Fortunately Stephen is slightly obsessive-compulsive and he had stuffed 20 extra vials into the bottom corner of his bag just in case. Stephen scrambled to grab those vials just as we were given word by the Main Event television producers that it was time to walk out to center ring.”
Horn said that in the times when he and Pacquiao would finish in a clinch after an exchange of punches, the 11-time world champ would tell him ‘Break, break.’
“Like an idiot, I did what Manny told me,” Horn said.
“It happened again soon after and like an idiot I did it again. I’m just so used to hearing the ‘break’ call from a referee or sparring partner. Finally I wised up and the next time he told me to ‘Break, break’, I said to myself, Stuff this, you don’t tell me what to do – that’s the ref’s job.’”
Horn said he believed he could stop Pacquiao inside the distance in a rematch because of the damage the Filipino icon suffered in the first fight and the wealth of experience Horn gained from the victory.
On the weekend Freddie Roach declared that he wanted to see Pacquiao fight Horn again before retiring.
He said he couldn’t bear the thought of seeing the all-time great retire without a world title around his waist.
Horn is a heavy favorite to beat WBO #10 Gary Corcoran on December 13 and his American promoter Bob Arum wants him to fight Terence Crawford in Las Vegas in April with Pacquiao set to face the winner of that battle.