Manny Pacquiao vs. Lucas Matthysse – Preview & prediction
By Chris Williams: After a year out of the ring, 39-year-old Manny Pacquiao is facing WBA ‘regular’ welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse this Saturday night in a crucial fight for the aging Filipino star. The fight will go ahead despite having been rumored to be on the verge of not happening due to money not being there.
Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) vs. Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs) will be shown on ESPN+ in the States. It’s unclear whether this will mean more money for Pacquiao or not. What it does mean is fewer boxing fans will see the contest than if it were shown on regular ESPN. That obviously isn’t a good thing for Pacquiao because it would be a big jolt for his career if he were seen by the U.S boxing public beating Matthysse. Of course, this can play two ways. If Pacquiao gets beaten by Matthysse, it would be disastrous for the fans to see the fight in the U.S, because they would see how far over-the-hill the 39-year-old Pacquiao is.
Pacquiao is no longer the fighter that he once was 10 years ago when he decimated Oscar De La Hoya in 2008. Pacquiao isn’t the same guy that destroyed Ricky Hatton in two rounds, and stopped a prime Miguel Cotto in 12 rounds. Pacquiao will be turning 40-year-old this December, and he’s now at an age where he needs to be careful in the opponents he faces. Hence, instead of fighting Errol Spence, Keith Thurman or Terence Crawford, Pacquiao is facing arguably the weakest welterweight champion of the bunch in 35-year-old Matthysse. If Pacquiao can’ beat him, then there’s really no point in continuing on with his career. Pacquiao is at a juncture in his long 23-year career that it might be time for him to focus entirely on his senatorial job in the Philippines now.
Pacquiao’s days of battling Mexican stars Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales, Antonio Margarito and Marco Antonio Barrera are long over at this point. He’s now facing the likes of Jeff Horn and Matthysse, both of which are B-level welterweights, and nowhere near the top guys in the 147 lb. weight class.
Pacquiao looked positively ancient in his loss to Jeff Horn last year in July 2017 in Brisbane, Australia. Pacquiao was fouled a lot in the fight by Horn in terms of being head-butted. Pacquiao looked so old and past his prime even during his best moments. The age was there for all to see. Pacquiao made a mediocre fighter in 29-year-old Horn look good instead of exposing him the way he would be if he fought the better fighters in the division like Spence, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia and Terence Crawford. Pacquiao’s conditioning wasn’t there for the fight. You can blame some of that on the long hours that he’s forced to put in as a senator in the Philippines. Pacquiao didn’t look like he was well-trained in the way he needed to be for him to have a chance of winning the fight. It’s unclear whether Pacquiao’s problem in the Horn fight was a lack of conditioning or the negative effects of a long career in boxing. Whatever the case, he wasn’t anywhere near the fighter he’d been in his prime.
The way Pacquiao looked against Horn, one could tell that he wasn’t going to be able to improve in his future fights. The only thing you could hope for is that Pacquiao can stay at the level he’s a right now without deteriorating further. Pacquiao ended up taking a lot of punishment in the Horn fight in losing a 12 round decision. Pacquiao didn’t take a lot of heavy shots in his fights against Floyd Mayweather Jr., Jessie Vargas, Chris Algieri, Brandon Rios, Joshua Clottey and Shane Mosley in the last eight years. The fights where Pacquiao did take a lot of hard blows were against these guys: Tim Bradley, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Jeff Horn and Juan Manuel Marquez. By far, those fights were the most grueling ones for Pacquiao in the last eight years, and they likely id the most in terms of causing wear and tear on his body. Pacquiao was brutally knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in the 6th round in their fight in 2012. That was a bad year for Pacquiao with him losing to Marquez and Bradley, You can argue that the loss to Bradley was a robbery, because he appeared to win that fight but the judges failed to give it to him. As a pay-per-view star, Pacquiao’s loss to Mayweather Jr. in 2015 did the most damage to his career in causing a huge downward slide in his buys.
Pacquiao obviously wasn’t helped by the match-making done by his former promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank, who chose to match him against Bradley in a third fight that the boxing public was in no mood to pay to see in April 2016, and then put in with Jessie Vargas and Jeff Horn, two of Arum’s Top Rank stable fighters. It was a big mistake in putting Pacquiao against those fighters when his PPV buys were already dropping off. Pacquiao should have been matched against Amir Khan, Spence, Kell Brook, Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia or Adrien Broner in the last two years instead of Vargas, Horn and Bradley. Even being put in with Matthysse is a career blunder for Pacquiao. He should have taken the fight with Matthysse many years ago when the Argentinian fighter was still highy thought of by the U.S boxing fans instead of waiting for him to start looking shot. Matthyse is a world champion at 147, but only because the World Boxing Association ranked him highly and then let him fight an obscure fighter from Thailand last year named Tewa Kiram.
Against Matthysse, Pacquiao can’t afford to have the stamina problems that he showed against Horn. If Pacquiao fades against Matthysse, he’s going to allow him to put hands on him, and that’s not something he wants or needs against a puncher like that. Granted, Matthysse is fighting above his natural weight class of 140, but he still punches hard for a welterweight. Pacquiao won’t last long if Matthysse is able to tee off on him the way that Horn was doing. Pacquiao wasn’t letting his hands go nearly enough against Horn for him to take the decision. It’s not that Pacquiao didn’t want to throw more punches because he clearly did. He simply didn’t have the stamina needed for him to get the job done against a beatable opponent.
Pacquiao won’t have trainer Freddie Roach with him on Saturday. Pacquiao let Roach go and is now being trained by long-time helper Buboy Fernandez. This is bad news for Pacquiao if he needs helpful advice during the fight. It’s hard to imagine Buboy being able to give Pacquiao any useful advice if he starts getting belted around the ring by the slightly younger 35-year-old Matthysse. I can picture Buboy telling Pacquiao, ‘Go get him! Throw more punches.’ The next thing you know, Pacquiao will be face down on the canvas in a deep slumber after walking into one of Matthysse’s big shots. That’s why it’s important for fighters to have the best possible trainers at all times. Buboy was a good helper for Pacquiao during his many years with him, but he’s not a substitute for an experienced trainer.
Matthysse is easily the hardest puncher that Pacquiao will have faced since his fight against Cotto in 2009. Pacquiao had little problems beating Cotto, but he was in the prime of his career. Pacquiao was able to elude a lot of the shots from Cotto due to his movement and his high work rate. Pacquiao won’t be able to do the same thing against Matthysse because he’s not as young or as quick as he was nine years ago, which was the last time he scored a knockout in a fight.
Pacquiao has too many hard fights during his career, and he’s coming into the match against Matthysse at the wrong time after a loss to Horn and a year out of the ring. I respect Pacquiao for wanting to take on a live body in Matthysse, but I believe it’s going to end badly for the Filipino star. I see Matthysse knocking Pacquiao out within six rounds or less. I think Pacquiao’s trainer Buboy will give him some bad advice by telling him to charge into the teeth of Matthysse’s offense, and it’ll result in him getting caught with a big shot and knocked cold. If Pacquiao fights in the same fearful manner that he did against Vargas and Mayweather, then this could be a very boring fight to watch. Pacquiao will lose the fight by a decision and look totally shot. I still see Matthysse knocking Pacquiao out on Saturday if he shows any signs of aggression. If Pacquiao was fighting at 75% capacity, he’d have little problems beating Matthysse. But unfortunately, Pacquiao is not at that level. Pacquiao looks like he’s functioning at 45% of the fighter that he once was, and that’s not going to be enough for him to beat the likes of Matthysse. I hope just hope for Pacquiao’s sake that he retires after he loses the fight, because it’ll be sad if he continues to take losses in his old age.
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