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Pacquiao looks for world title against Matthysse

Image: Pacquiao looks for world title against Matthysse

By Jim Dower: Old war horse Manny Pacquiao will be looking to capture another world title against WBA ‘regular welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse this Saturday night in Malaysia. The fight will be shown on ESPN+ on July 14. Pacquiao, 39, wants to revive his stalled career against the power-puncher Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs) at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

This is a card promoted by Manny Pacquiao Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions. Pacquiao’s old promoters at Top Rank won’t be involved in this fight and neither will his former trainer Freddie Roach. Top Rank will be involved in the U.S distribution of the fight.

In a surprising move, Pacquiao has replaced Roach with his assistant coach Buboy Fernandez. Pacquiao is going to be out there on his own for all intents and purposes on Saturday. If things get difficult for Pacquiao, he’s going to likely need to figure his way out of the problem on his own. Pacquiao is only effective when he’s coming forward. That’s the problem. When he stays on the outside, he tends to lose rounds and look bad.

The former eight division world champion Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) isn’t ready to admit it, but his career is very much on the line in this fight. He lost his last fight to former Top Rank stable-mate Jeff Horn last year in July 2017 in Australia, and he can’t afford to lose this one too. Pacquiao’s record in his last 10 fights is a pedestrian 6-4, and it could have been worse if he’d fought better fighters like Errol Spence Jr., Terence Crawford, Danny Garcia, Kell Brook and Shawn Porter. You can make a case where Pacquiao would have lost to all of those fighters. Luckily for Pacquiao, his former promoter Bob Arum matched him softly in fights against Jessie Vargas, a shot Tim Bradley, Brandon Rios and Chris Algieri. Pacquiao lost to the better fighters in Floyd Mayweather Jr., Juan Manuel Marquez, Bradley [first fight] and Horn.

“I tanned because I’ve been training a lot outdoors in GenSan,” Pacquiao said via ESPN Deportes. ”I feel good. I had a great camp, I’d like to thank my MP Promotions team, I want to give them a prize for doing a good job.”

Pacquiao said similar things before his fight against Jeff Horn last year in July, and he still came up short in that fight in losing a 2 round unanimous decision in a fight where he was outworked, roughed up and out-hustled by the younger 29-year-old Horn. While some boxing fans felt that Pacquiao deserved the ‘W’ in the Horn fight, the fact of the matter is he was out-hustled in the second half of the fight by the Australian fighter, which is why the judges gave it to him. Pacquiao could have pulled out the win if he’d shown some energy and motivation to push down the stretch. That fight came down to which of the two wanted it more, and it was clear that Horn was the one that was willing to put in the hard work to get the job done. Pacquiao couldn’t or wouldn’t switch into a higher gear in the last four rounds to get the decision. If Pacquiao hasn’t improved his conditioning since then, he’s going to get outworked by Matthysse and wind up either getting beaten by a decision or knocked out. Either way, it’s going to be disastrous for Pacquiao’s career. A loss at his point would be the signal that Pacquiao needs to pack it in and go off into the sunset, and be happy with his eight division world titles that he won in the past.

This will be the biggest boxing match in Malaysia since the fight many years ago between former heavyweight world champion Muhammad Ali and Joe Bugner, which took place 43 years ago. Pacquiao vs. Matthysse isn’t a huge fight for fights in the U.S, but it’s a big deal for a major fight in Malaysia. If Pacquiao wants to create a lot of interest from the U.S market, he’s going to need to beat Matthysse and then look to fight the likes of WBA champion Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman, IBF champion Errol Spence Jr. or WBO belt holder Terence Crawford, Pacquiao could create a lot of interest from fans, many of which would tune in to see him fight if for no other reason to watch him potentially lose the fight. Pacquiao has a lot of boxing fans who want to see him face some real adversity. There were a lot of soft matches that Pacquiao was put in during the last eight years.

The fans saw Pacquiao capturing world titles against guys like David Diaz and Antonio Margarito. Those weren’t the best fighters in their respective weight classes, and it looked to some boxing fans that Pacquiao was just trying to win different division titles against the weakest fighters possible in order to pad his resume the easy way. Pacquiao also has a lot of critics from his first three fights against Juan Manuel Marquez in which he appeared to lose all three of them, but was given two victories and a draw. Marquez finally decided he wasn’t going to let the judges score his four forth fight with Pacquiao, so he knocked him out cold in 2012. Pacquiao hasn’t been the same fighter since that match, as he’s become cautious inside the ring, not attacking like he used to in his best years. Pacquiao has passed the point of no return, as he cannot go back to his all-out fighting style even if he wanted to, because his stamina is no longer letting him fight hard enough to fight the way used to during his prime. If Pacquiao goes after Matthysse the way he used to, he likely will tire out quickly and wind up getting knocked out.

Putting Pacquiao vs. Matthysse on ESPN+ is a questionable move on Pacquiao Promotions and Golden Boy’s part, as a lot of boxing fans aren’t going to want to pay $5 to see it. The fans pay to see big fights on PPV, but this is not a big fight. It’s a match between two aging fighters who have seen better days. Paying $5 to see Pacquiao fight the 35-year-old Matthsse on the ESPN streaming service might backfire with only a small amount of boxing choosing to subscribe.

It’s going to be interesting to see what game plan Pacquiao trainer Buboy Fernandez has for he Matthysse fight, if any, to help him win. Pacquiao will likely be in the best shape a 39-year-old fighter can be in, but I don’t know what helpful advice Buboy can give him between rounds that will help him beat Matthysse. If all Buboy can tell Pacquiao is ‘Attack,’, then it’s going to go well for him. That’s why it’s in the best interest for fighters that can afford the best possible trainers to make sure they hire the best rather than hiring their friends or their helpers to get them ready for their fights. Buboy has been around Pacquiao for years as a helper, but I think he’s out of his league as his trainer for his fight against Matthysse. This is a fight that Pacquiao could get badly hurt if Matthysse is able to put hand on him. If all Pacquiao has as his brain trust in his corner is Buboy, it’s going to be bad for him on Saturday.

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