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Funeka's focus on Pacquiao, not Jeff Horn

AAP logoAAP 8/12/2016 Vince Rugari

The man blocking Australian welterweight Jeff Horn's path to a world title fight says he's already thinking about a dream bout with Manny Pacquiao.

South African veteran Ali Funeka, who takes on Horn in a crucial WBO welterweight clash on Saturday night, was 45 minutes late to Thursday's press conference in Auckland.

When he eventually arrived, the 38-year-old made it clear he was in no mood for pleasantries.

"To be honest with you, I'm here to fight Jeff Horn. But my focus is on Manny Pacquiao," Funeka said.

"For me, he's a bridge for me to get to Manny Pacquiao.

"I'm not underestimating him, I saw his fights. He's a good boxer, but I've been boxing for a long time."

The bout is the main undercard attraction to Kiwi Joseph Parker's world heavyweight title fight against Mexican-American Andy Ruiz Jr, arguably one of the biggest sporting events to ever come to New Zealand outside of a Rugby World Cup.

For Horn, the No.2 welterweight in the WBO and IBF, and Funeka, ranked at No.8 by the WBO, the stakes are enormous.

The winner will put themselves right in the frame for a fight with Pacquiao, the legendary Filipino who recently recaptured the WBO's welterweight title for the third time.

Pacquiao's promoter Bob Arum has signed a deal with Horn's promoters, Duco Events, to take Horn's next fight to the US if he wins.

Horn (15-0-1) is undefeated and thinking big, but Funeka (39-5-3) has a 10cm height and reach advantage and only fought for a world title last year, losing on points.

He shapes as one of the trickiest adversaries Horn has faced.

But the 28-year-old former schoolteacher, who took up boxing to defend himself from bullies and also fought at the 2012 London Olympics, has heard all the talk before.

"Guys have come and said they're going to knock me out, and they've ended up giving up in the corner," Horn said.

"Ali said I throw too many right punches, but he's going to be asking me to stop by the end of the fight."

Arum said he will be watching Horn intently.

"Our matchmaker says he's the goods. He'll be contending for a welterweight championship. I can't wait to see him fight," he said.

"You already have the nickname picked out - the fighting schoolteacher, that's pretty good. That sends a message to all the delinquent kids."

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