The much-anticipated rematch between Manny Pacquiao and Jeff Horn has been called off.
Pacquiao has withdrawn from the fight due to what is being reported is a scheduling conflict from his duties as a senator in his native Philippines.
Horn, the current WBO welterweight champion, appears to still have a title defense set for November 12, but a replacement opponent has not been named.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said in a statement the Australian government would still support Horn's WBO welterweight title defense but against a new challenger, yet to be named.
"We have been advised today that Manny Pacquiao ... cannot return to the ring on 12 November as proposed," Palaszczuk said. "I am advised Mr. Pacquiao, who is also a Senator of the Philippines, will have other commitments at that time. Whoever the challenger is, my Government will help arrange the meeting because it will be good news for Queensland."
Duco Events, who promotes Horn with Top Rank, issued a statement confirming that Pacquiao was out of the fight.
"Pacquiao is committed to fighting again in 2018 and a rematch with Jeff Horn for the WBO welterweight title. Until then, Top Rank, Duco Promotions, TEQ (Tourism and Events Queensland) and Brisbane Marketing will be exploring options," the statement said.
Horn’s promoter Dean Lonergan confirmed the rematch will no longer happen this year, and new opponents are now being considered for Horn. Although it is too early to tell, it's possible that current unified junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford could make his long-awaited move up to welterweight and challenge Horn for the title. Crawford is promoted by Top Rank, same as Pacquiao, and Crawford has repeatedly said in the past that he wants to face the winner of the Pacquiao vs. Horn rematch. Crawford is coming off a win over Julius Indongo on August 19, but Crawford quickly dismantled Indongo inside three rounds, so Crawford has not sustained any major damage from the fight.
“Manny Pacquiao has decided that he will not be competing in a rematch with Jeff Horn in 2017,” Lonergan said.
Pacquiao lost to Horn back in July on an ESPN-televised card that is among the highest-viewed boxing fights on cable in years. The fight also broke the Australian boxing attendance record. Unfortunately for Pacquiao, he lost the WBO welterweight title in a highly controversial decision in which Horn was the winner on all three cards.
The decision became so controversial, the WBO decided to have five independent judges review and score the fight weeks later, but the ruling still stood.
There had been a lot of reports of the rematch taking place in November in Australia again, but the city of Brisbane did not want to commit to the fight financially until it was assured Pacquiao was on board. Pacquiao has said in the past that he wanted a rematch and Bob Arum had been working hard to make the rematch happen, but no such deal had been finalized up to that point.
When Top Rank signed an exclusive broadcasting deal in late August with ESPN, one of the biggest key attractions in the deal was that ESPN would be broadcasting a Pacquiao vs. Horn rematch. The rematch could still happen, but it appears that it would now happen in 2018 at the earliest.