MANNY Pacquiao cracked his biggest smile on Sunday at the thought of a toe-to-toe slugfest with Jeff Horn in Brisbane.
“I love to brawl,’’ he said ahead of Sunday’s World Boxing Organisation welterweight title fight at Suncorp Stadium.
“It’s going to be a war. I’m expecting him to come inside close to me, fighting toe-to-toe and I’m ready for that.
“I love to fight aggressive fighters. I plan to win and a knockout is a bonus.”
Pacquiao and his wife Jinkee, born-again Christians, spent two hours at a church service at the Worship Centre in Carina on Sunday.
Pacquiao said he was trying to shore up a place in heaven for himself but that he was planning to unleash hell against Horn.
More than 45,000 tickets for the bout have already been sold and Pacquiao says he hopes Horn follows Jeff Fenech’s tactics that were revealed in The Courier Mail on Saturday.
Pacquiao said he knew all about Fenech’s strategy after being reminded Australia’s three-time world champ had told Horn to “bash the bloke in close, do everything to hurt him in close. Twist him, twist his knees, use your weight advantage, bully him — bang your shoulder into him.”
An enormous smile broke across Pacquiao’s face and his eyes sparkled with a little of the fire Horn will see close up on Sunday afternoon.
“I have been fighting and training with brawler fighters, tough fighters.
“I consider Horn a tough opponent. I never underestimate an opponent. He’s undefeated and young. He has a big right hand. He has good amateur experience.”
Pacquiao faced a fighter using “Fenech tactics” in 2000 when the Fenech-trained Nedal Hussein knocked him down in Antipolo City before Pacquiao won on a late-round stoppage.
Fitness guru Dundee Kim is helping Brisbane's Jeff Horn prepare for his world title fight against Manny Pacquiao.
“It was a very dirty fight,” he said. “A lot of elbows and headbutts.”
Pacquiao said he had been sparring Australian George Kambosos and Mexican Adrian Young over the past month.
He said Young had a similar style to Horn. The Mexican suffered two knockdowns in sparring last week.
Pacquiao said all his hard work for the fight was now done and he would only undergo light training at the Lang Park PCYC this week.
A huge crowd at Suncorp Stadium did not frighten him, he said, adding that he had beaten Anthony Mundine’s conqueror Joshua Clottey in front of more than 50,000 people at Cowboys Stadium in Texas in 2010.
“It’s a great opportunity to fight in Brisbane and I have had a very warm welcome,” he said.
“I love the fans shouting. Whether it’s for me or for Horn. Big crowds make me very happy. I like that.”
The 11-time world champion arrived in Brisbane on Saturday night with wife Jinkee and a 160-strong army of family and friends aboard a chartered AirAsia Airbus A330 flight from his hometown in General Santos City.
Pacquiao, a high-ranking Filipino senator away from boxing, had been given a military guard of honour as he boarded the flight, walking the red carpet to the jet while saluting a cordon of soldiers who presented arms.
The aircraft’s body featured a giant image of the Filipino icon in a fierce fighting pose.
“In all my years of boxing, I have never been as motivated and fired up as this fight,” he said.
“My team is very happy with my preparation. I am looking forward to this and I will be going home as world champion.
“This is Jeff Horn’s big chance. I remember when I was starting out. I would lie awake at night and dream of winning a big fight.
Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach, who also coached the likes of Mike Tyson and Oscar De La Hoya, said: “We are here to win the fight.
“Horn is a little bigger and stronger, but Manny is faster and punches hard so it’s going to be a good battle.”