BRISBANE • Filipino boxing great Manny Pacquiao pulled out of a rematch with world champion Jeff Horn yesterday, leaving the Australian looking for another challenger in his title defence.
The Queensland state government, the fight's financial backers, made the announcement two months ahead of the scheduled Nov 12 bout.
"We have been advised today that Manny Pacquiao cannot return to the ring on Nov 12 as proposed," Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said in a statement. "I am advised Mr Pacquiao, who is also a Senator of the Philippines, will have other commitments at that time."
She said her government would continue to support Horn's WBO (World Boxing Organisation) welterweight title defence, whoever the challenger is.
The unheralded Australian stunned the boxing world with a unanimous 12-round decision over Pacquiao in Brisbane on July 2, a hotly-contested result that triggered an outcry in the Philippines.
The WBO moved to quell the controversy by rescoring the fight with a different set of judges - who still found that Horn won by seven rounds to five.
It ordered the scoring review at the request of the Philippines' Games and Amusements Board, which criticised the judges and the referee. In the twilight of a 22-year pro career in which he won world titles in an unprecedented eight weight divisions, Pacquiao had initially called for a rematch despite US trainer Freddie Roach advising him to quit.
The 38-year-old has not stopped an opponent in eight years and briefly quit boxing last year to pursue his long-held political ambitions and was elected senator.
But he quickly made a successful comeback against Jessie Vargas last November before losing to Horn, 29.