Pacquiao 2:1 favorite to beat Matthysse
By Jim Dower: Old war horse Manny Pacquiao is the favorite to topple WBA ‘regular’ welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs) tonight in their fight at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
A year after being installed as a huge 7:1 favorite to defeat Jeff Horn, Pacquiao is a slight 2:1 favorite to defeat the 35-year-old Matthysse. The location of the fight makes it difficult to foresee a scenario where the Argentinian Matthysse is given a decision over Pacquiao if the fight is a close one. It might be difficult for Matthysse to win by a decision given that he’s fighting in a venue that seems to favor Pacquiao. The fight is in Pacquiao’s backward. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Matthysse is up against it tonight and will need a knockout to win the contest.
Pro Boxing Odds has Pacquiao the favorite by the line -200 to Matthysse’s +205. If this fight had taken place last early last year, Pacquiao would likely be a much bigger favorite. At this point, Pacquiao should be the underdog due to his last performance against Horn. Pacquiao’s poor stamina, lack of punching power with his right hand, and slowed reflexes suggest that he shouldn’t be the favorite. Horn defeated Pacquiao by a 12 round unanimous decision. The outcome was controversial.
Pacquiao-Matthysse fight card will begin at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT tonight on ESPN+. The Pacquiao vs. Matthysse main event is expected to start 11:00 p.m. ET or a little later.
Pacquiao, 39, says he’s going to use movement to try and defeat Matthysse. It’s a logical plan for Pacquiao, because it would be insane for him to stand in front of Matthysse looking to punch with him. Matthysse is the younger and more powerful fighter of the two. If Pacquiao tries to mix it up with him, he’s going to get hit with too many heavy shots. Matthysse has the power to take Pacquiao out with a single shot. That’s what makes Matthysse so dangerous. There’s literally no margin of error with Matthysse.
”Our plan is to move side-to-side, throw a lot of punches and, of course, if given a chance, finish the fight early,” Pacquiao said to The Inquirer. “I am ready. Everything is under control. I am motivated, I am happy and I am hungry.”
I think it’s safe to say that Pacquiao won’t be using a lot of movement. He hasn’t been a mover for years. It’s not that he doesn’t try to still use he side-to-side movement that he had earlier in his career when he was fighting at 112, 122, 130 and 135. Pacquiao lost his ability to move as well after he moved up to 147. He does move his head a little while coming forward, but he’s not hard to hit because he comes straight at his opponents when on the attack. Pacquiao is easy to predict now.
Tonight’s Pacquiao vs. Matthysse fight could be decided on which of the two has the better stamina. Long ago, Pacquiao was known for having great conditioning in his fight, which permitted him to fight hard, throw a lot of punches and get the better of his less conditioned opponents. In Pacquiao’s last two fights against Jeff Horn and Jessie Vargas, he’s looked visibly tired in the second half of those fights. Pacquiao was worn out in rounds 8 to 12 against Horn. Matthysse hasn’t had to fight in the later rounds in the last three years, as he’s knocked out his last two opponents since being stopped in the 10
th round by Viktor Postol in 2015. It’s difficult to predict with any degree of certainty how Matthysse will hold up in a fight that goes to the championship rounds. He did look tired in the last quarter of his fight against Ruslan Provodniov in April 2015. Matthysse dished out a lot of punishment to Provodnikov before gassing out in the last four rounds. It’s unclear whether Pacquiao could take the same kind of punishment that Provodnikov did in order to win. Provodnikov was getting hit with everything Matthysse could throw in that fight. If Pacquiao has got walk through that kind of punishment tonight to try and win, it’s doubtful that he’ll be able to do it. Matthysse threw over 1000 shots against Provodnikov. Round six was brutal to watch with the punishment that Matthysse inflicted on Provodnikov. If Matthysse lands even a quarter amount of punches on Pacquiao, it’s possible the Filipino star will be taking a snooze inside the ring like he did against Juan Manuel Marquez in their fight in 2012. That was the fight in which Marquez caught Pacquiao with a right hand in the 6th round when he was rushing forward. The shot knocked Pacquiao clean out, sending him down face first on the canvas. Pacquiao’s assistant coach Buboy Fernandez then got upset after a photographer took a photo of him while he was face down on the canvas. Hopefully, Buboy doesn’t react in the same way tonight, as he needs to let the photographers do their jobs.
Pacquiao dishes out pain well, but he doesn’t take it nearly as well. When Pacquiao starts getting hit a lot, he loses his confidence and isn’t the same fighter. We saw that in Pacquiao’s first fight with Erik Morales, as well as his fights against Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Jeff Horn. Antonio Margarito had Pacquiao hurt a couple of times, and he didn’t look like a happy camper in that fight. Pacquiao changed his game entirely by using movement in order to beat Margarito. However, that fight took place eight years ago when Pacquiao was still young at 31. He’s now 39, and incapable of using the same kind of movement that he displayed against Margarito.
Pacquiao-Matthysse won’t be on ESPN PPV. The fight not being televised on PPV will hurt Pacquiao, because he’s not going to make the kind of money that he was accustomed to getting in the past. Pacquiao needs to hope that he can win the fight, and then use the victory to get a nice payday fight on ESPN PPV against the likes of Vasyl Lomachenko or Amir Khan. That’s the only guy that makes sense for Pacquiao to fight if he gets past Matthysse tonight. Pacquiao seems to now his limitations as a fighter at this stage in his career, which is why we won’t see him fighting Errol Spence, Keith Thurman, Terence Crawford, Danny Garcia or Shawn Porter. Lomachenko and Khan are fighters that Pacquiao can make good money fighting, and possibly beat.
Matthysse is said to be getting $2 million for tonight’s fight. That’s good money for a fight a non-PPV fight.
If Matthysse is able to get his machine-like offense running on all cylinders, it’s going to be a short night for Pacquiao. He’s not going to be able to take getting hit 100 times to the head in each round. There are some fighters that can take a lot of punishment, but Pacquiao isn’t one of them. In Pacquiao’s prime, he would likely be too good for Matthysse, but not now. Pacquiao used to have great footwork and hand speed. Age has taken way the speed.
”I prepared myself really, really well,” Matthysse said to ESPN.com. ”My goal is to go home with a win. They can think whatever they want. I had great preparation. I’m here with my belt and I’m taking it back home with me.”
This will be the best career win for Matthysse if he defeats Pacquiao tonight. Defeating the former eight division world champion Pacquiao will be a nice feather for Matthysse to stick in his cap. Pacquiao’s team expects Matthysse to fold within the first three rounds, but that’s unlikely to happen. Pacquiao hasn’t knocked out an opponent in nine years since his 12th round stoppage win over a weight drained Miguel Cotto in 2009. Given that Pacquiao hasn’t been able to KO an opponent in nearly a decade, it would seem unlikely that he’ll be able to get the job done tonight against Matthysse. If there’s going to be a knockout in this fight, it’s going to be Matthysse that scores it. Matthysse doesn’t care that Pacquiao is old and considered a shot fighter. It would still be a career-best victory for Matthysse if he beats Pacquiao. Matthysse is still the underdog despite being the world champion and the stronger and younger fighter of the two.
If Pacquiao gets poor corner work by his former helper Buboy Fernandez, it’s going to decrease his chances of winning. Going from Freddie Roach to Buboy as his trainer is a tremendous drop off in knowledge. I think Pacquiao would have been wiser to have hired a good trainer for the fight like Nacho Beristain. Buboy would be fine to carry the towels and the spit bucket in the corner, but definitely not as the trainer.
Pacquiao and Matthysse are two aging fighters. The winner of the fight will be the guy that can land their punches. Matthysse has the advantage in that he doesn’t need to land as many of his shots for him to get a knockout.