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Horn on course for Pacquiao after big win

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 10/12/2016 Vince Rugari

Australia's brightest boxing talent Jeff Horn has taken a huge step towards a dream date with Manny Pacquiao after a crushing win over South African veteran Ali Funeka on Saturday night in Auckland.

The Australian welterweight overcame a shock third-round knockdown to win by technical knockout in round six to seal his 16th professional win, and by far the most significant of his career so far.

It means the 28-year-old former schoolteacher from Brisbane is potentially just one fight away from a meeting with Pacquiao, the legendary Filipino and the WBO welterweight champion.

Pacquiao's promoter Bob Arum watched on from ringside at Auckland's Vector Arena, with Horn's fight the main support to Kiwi Joseph Parker's heavyweight world title clash with American-Mexican Andy Ruiz Jr.

Arum has signed a co-promotion deal with Horn's promoters Duco Events and had floated his intention to bring him to the US early next year to face Jessie Vargas or Timothy Bradley, two other fighters in his Top Rank stable, if he was able to overcome Funeka.

Arum, who turned 85 on Thursday, would have been thoroughly impressed with what he saw.

The experienced Funeka had a 10cm height and reach advantage but his lanky frame proved his undoing, with Horn's full-on body assault paying rich dividends.

He copped a few early jabs from Funeka but always looked to have the 38-year-old's measure, even after a head clash prompted the referee to controversially rule a knockdown in the dying seconds of the third round.

Funeka complained about an apparent headbutt early in the next round that left him with a nasty gash above his left eye.

Horn responded with a knockdown of his own in round five, and finished the job by sending a visibly tired Funeka crashing to the canvas soon afterwards - just the second time he had been stopped in his 21-year career.

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