Manny Pacquiao Makes Triumphant Return Stopping Lucas Matthysse in Seven Rounds
By Hector Franco | Senior Writer and Editor
Published: July 14, 2018
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA – Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) is not in his prime. He is no longer the dynamic volume-punching whirlwind that fans fell in love with years ago. However, the rumors of his demise were greatly exaggerated. The Filipino is still good enough past his prime to be competitive with fighters of this era.
At the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Pacquiao made his return to the squared circle after the most extended layoff of his now 23-year career. The Filipino Senator faced off against Argentina’s Lucas Matthysse (39-5, 36 KOs) for a version of the WBA welterweight (147) title. In Pacquiao’s last fight he faced off against Jeff Horn in Australia and lost a controversial decision along with the WBO welterweight championship. For his fight with Matthysse, Pacquiao made changes to his training team choosing to leave longtime trainer Freddie Roach. He also decided to be the lead promoter along with Golden Boy Promotions for the fight with Matthysse. Although most observers had Pacquiao winning the bout against Horn, he looked subpar for large segments of the match leading to many calling for the future Hall-of-Famers retirement.
With the added pressure of fans doubting he can still fight at a top level and performing at an event that he put together and promoted, Pacquiao delivered a performance against Matthysse that brought memories of the Pac-Man of old rather than an old Pac-Man. When the first bell rang, it was clear that Pacquiao’s speed and movement would trouble the Argentinean slugger. In the third round, Pacquiao landed a beautifully placed uppercut from the outside that sent Matthysse down to the canvas. The boxing Senator was patient and did not rush in to stop the Argentine showing respect for his punching power.
Whenever Pacquiao let his hands go throwing punches in combination, he was able to hurt Matthysse and overwhelm him. At this stage of his career, Pacquiao no longer throws punches with reckless abandon looking to hunt his opponents down with a killer instinct. The eight-division now chooses to pick his spots, and against Matthysse he displayed that he still has impeccable timing.
In the fifth-round Pacquiao landed a right hook that landed on Matthysse’s temple forcing the power puncher to take a knee. It was only a matter of time from this point with Pacquiao doing almost whatever he wanted in the sixth round. The end came in the seventh round with another well-timed uppercut putting the Argentine on the canvas. Referee Kenny Bayless put a halt to the bout at the 2:34 mark of the seventh round.
With the victory, Pacquiao now holds a version of the WBA welterweight title earning the 60th victory of his storied career. The stoppage win over Matthyysee was the Filipino’s first stoppage victory in almost ten years. The last stoppage victory Pacquiao scored was against Miguel Cotto in November 2009.
It is unclear at this point if Pacquiao will step back into the ring in 2018. The memory of winning a world title and winning by stoppage should be enough for even the most hardcore of Pacquiao’s fans to hold on to. Throughout the history of boxing, there have only been a few fighters who exited the sport at the top of their game or on a high note.
Father time will always remain undefeated. There are rumors of a potential clash for Pacquiao with lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko. A long-awaited bout with WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford still has the potential of taking place. A fight with the ‘Super’ WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman seems much more competitive after Pacquiao’s performance against Matthysse.
Whether Pacquiao decides to retire or return will remain to be seen. However, for one night fans saw glimpses of a prime Pacquiao against an opponent that was ideally suited for him at this stage of his career. At 39 years of age and 23 years as a professional, the Pac-Man left fans with potentially one last good memory.
(Featured Photo: Top Rank Boxing)