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Pacquiao undecided on next opponent

Image: Pacquiao undecided on next opponent

By Allan Fox: Looking more muscular than he’s looked in years, 39-year-old Manny Pacquiao scored a rare knockout in stopping WBA World welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse in the 7th round last Saturday night at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The stoppage was Paccquiao’s first in nine years.

After the fight, Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) says he wasn’t sure which direction he’d go in next. He does want to continue his career, but he’s undecided who he’ll fight. The obvious choices are there for Pacquiao: Vasyl Lomachenko, Amir Khan and Terence Crawford.

Lomachenko and Khan have the best shot at getting picked out for a fight against Pacquiao. Khan might have the best shot at landing a fight with Pacquiao because he won’t make negotiations difficult. Putting together a fight against the 30-year-old Lomachenko could prove to be a major headache for Pacquiao, and perhaps not worth it. There’s no upside for Pacquiao in beating someone as small as Lomachenko due to the vast differences in their weight classes. Even if Pacquiao beats Lomachenko, he won’t receive credit from the boxing public due to his size advantage.

“We will take a rest for now before we decide what to do next,” Pacquiao said. “You have to love what you do in order to do what I still do as a 39-year-old fighter,” said Pacquiao.”

Here are the options for Pacquiao:

Amir Khan – The smartest choice for Pacquiao to face next is Khan A lot of money in that fight against a guy that isn’t a huge puncher. It’s a win-win fight for Khan. He faces a guy with blazing hand speed and a huge fan base in the UK.

Terence Crawford – The counter punching WBO welterweight champion Crawford has very little shot at getting a fight against Pacquiao. Crawford brings all the worst elements that Floyd Mayweather Jr. possesses, but he’s a better puncher and he moves a lot more. Pacquiao isn’t going to want to have to chase a counter puncher around the ring for 12 rounds at his age with him turning 40 this December. Besides, Crawford is not a star. He’s liked by some hardcore boxing fans, but he’s failed to catch on with the casual fans due to his defensive style of fighting. Of the three potential options for Pacquiao, Khan would seem to be the likeliest. Khan comes to fight, he’s easy to work with in negotiations, and he has a chin problem. It’s the ideal opponent for Pacquiao. Last year, Pacquiao had been hoping to face Khan. Instead, Pacquiao’s former promoter Bob Arum matched him against his Top Rank fighter Jeff Horn in Australia, and he ended up losing a controversial 12 round unanimous decision. In hindsight, Arum should have made the Pacquiao-Khan fight, because it looked bad the way Pacquiao was roughed up by Horn in losing a controversial decision in Brisbane, Australia. Everything about that fight looks bad in hindsight. Pacquiao fighting a much bigger fighter in his own hometown of Australia. It was a crazy fight to make. If the idea was to keep Pacquiao with Top Rank, Arum should have matched him with Khan instead of Horn.

Vasyl Lomachenko – The movement, weird angles, small size and the high work rate of Lomachenko makes him a lousy choice for Pacquiao to fight. Pacquiao would be doing Arum a HUGE favor by facing Lomachenko because it would help increase the Ukrainian’s popularity. Win or lose, Lomachenko comes out of the Pacquiao fight a more popular fighter. Pacquiao will

most likely look bad. If Pacquiao beats Lomachenko with ease, the boxing fans will say he’s a bully for picking such a small fighter. If Pacquiao struggles to win, which would seem likely, he’ll be criticized by because of his size advantage. If Pacquiao loses to Lomachenko, then it’s game over. His career as a popular fighter will effectively be finished. Pacquiao can continue fighting if he wants, but it’s doubtful he’ll draw fans like he once did. It’s better that Pacquiao fight a bigger guy like Khan, Errol Spence Jr., Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter or Keith Thurman than in facing a tiny fighter like Lomachenko.

“Do I look old?” said Pacquiao at the post-fight press conference. Pacquiao didn’t fight like an older fighter, and his muscular physique looked like a younger fighter. Pacquiao has obviously been hitting the weights because he looked more muscular and defined in many years. This is perhaps the most muscular Pacquiao has looked in a fight since his win over Miguel Cotto in 2009. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that the Cotto fight was the last time he scored a knockout. Until last Saturday night, Pacquiao hadn’t come close to knocking anyone out.

Pacquiao knocked Matthysse down three times last night to capture his WBA regular welterweight champion. Keith Thurman has the primary World Boxing Association welterweight strap, called the ‘Super World’ belt. The fight was stopped at 2:43 of round 7. Since the fight ended, Pacquiao has been receiving a massive amount of adulation from the boxing world despite the fact that he beat a badly flawed and arguably over-the-hill fighter in Matthysse. The casual fans aren’t aware that Matthysse isn’t one of the top five talents in the welterweight division. Matthysse is perhaps the 10th best welterweight. You can’t rate Matthysse among the elites in the 147 lb. division like Spence, Thurman, Porter, Garcia, Pacquiao, Khan, Jessie Vargas, Jeff Horn, Kerman Lejarraga and Crawford.

Some of Pacquiao’s loyal boxing fans are saying his win over Matthysse has proved his critics wrong. I don’t know if you can really say that though. Pacquiao was inside the ring with a very poor looking Matthysse, who looked old, shot and incredibly slow of hand. In two of the knockdowns, Matthysse didn’t look like he was hit hard by Pacquiao and yet he still went down. Matthysse’s punch resistance looked poor, and his defense less than what it needed to be. We can’t say that Pacquiao has proven the critics wrong until he faces a good welterweight like Spence, Thurman, Porter, Garcia or Crawford. Until he faces one of them, all Pacquiao is doing is selecting beatable welterweights. If Pacquiao wants to fight a fighter from the 140 lb. weight class, then he needs to face the likes of Regis Prograis, as he’s considered the best in that weight class by a lot of boxing fans. Pacquiao isn’t saying anything about wanting to fight a light welterweight though. If Pacquiao fights a non-welterweight, it will likely be WBA lightweight champion Lomachenko at a catch-weight below 140.

“He’s a great fighter and a great champion,” said Matthysse about Pacquiao. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and today it was my turn to lose, but I lost to a great fighter and a great legend in Manny Pacquiao.”

Matthysse had looked really poor in his previous fight against Tewa Kiram last January. It’s not surprising that Matthysse stunk out the joint last night against Pacquiao, because he’s lost too much from his game in recent years. If this fight had taken place in 2011 when Matthysse was at the top of his game, it would have been a thrilling one to watch, but obviously not now. Matthysse looked completely shot as a fighter, and nowhere near the same level that he was at years ago.

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