Legends Die Hard: A Pacquiao vs. Matthysse Preview

By Paul Magno on July 12, 2018
Legends Die Hard: A Pacquiao vs. Matthysse Preview
Manny Pacquiao, meanwhile, is nothing but awkwardness wrapped in unorthodoxy.

If matched against a savvy, skilled boxer with comparable physical ability, Pacquiao would have real trouble…

This Saturday on ESPN+ (Undercard begins at 9 p.m. ET, Main Event is programmed for some time after 11 p.m. ET) Manny Pacquiao and Lucas Matthysse will battle for Matthysse’s WBA “regular” welterweight title in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

For a good, long while it looked as though this bout would not happen. Rumors abounded that Pacquiao’s MP Promotions, which is lead promoter for the event, was having trouble getting money in the right places and struggling mightily with the logistics of pulling off an event of this size. U.S. TV rights, for example, were just barely finalized and announced less than a week before the card.

But, apparently, things have fallen into place and there WILL be a fight after all.

First ballot Hall of Famer, Pacquiao, will be looking to capture his umpteenth belt against the hard-hitting Argentine, Matthysse, but the story leading up to this paper title bout has revolved around whether the 39-year-old Filipino icon should even still be fighting.

Boxing media groupthink believes he should NOT.

In reality, though, Pacquiao is a legitimate top 10 welterweight by any reasonable analysis and, arguably, still a top 5 or 6 147-pounder—behind only guys like Errol Spence, Terence Crawford, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, and Danny Garcia. Last July’s decision loss to the awkward Jeff Horn was extremely controversial and those calling for his retirement would be well served to remember that just two years ago, Pacquiao scored decisive unanimous decisions over two pretty good welters in Jessie Vargas and Timothy Bradley. Pacquiao may be past his prime, but until he turns in a poorer then poor performance, the “he’s a shell of his former self” narrative is not valid.

And, honestly, the question of how far away he is from his prime may not even matter when matched up against Matthysse.

Fight fans know what’s what with Lucas Matthysse. “The Machine” has legitimate power in both hands and a will to fight, but that’s pretty much all he has.

Matthysse has shown an inability to deal with movement in the ring and anything that throws him off balance or mentally off-kilter. He lunges in after elusive opponents, leaving himself open to counters, and he has a tendency to aimlessly follow foes who don’t engage in a straightforward manner. More problematic, though, is his penchant for throwing in the towel, mentally, against stylistically difficult opposition. Without a “Plan B’ or the tools to force a mobile fighter into a firefight, Matthysse becomes lost and resorts to following his opponent inefficiently, occasionally launching a hail mary punch in hopes that it finds a target.

The Argentine, in order to live up to his highlight reel full potential, requires that an opponent stand toe-to-toe with him and not show any off-putting angles or unorthodoxy.

Pacquiao, meanwhile, is nothing but awkwardness wrapped in unorthodoxy. From his extreme southpaw stance to his herky-jerky ring movements, the eight-division former world champ has made his fame turning elite-level fighters into tentative pickers and pawers.

A slowed-down Manny has done less counter-striking at befuddled foes in recent years. No longer confident in his ability to get in, get off, and get out without taking return fire, he now stays on the outside more and rarely takes the risk of planting his feet for something big. His awkwardness and the remains of his natural athletic ability have been enough to see him past all but Floyd Mayweather in recent years and smart matchmaking will keep him successful in these last few fights of his career.

If matched against a savvy, skilled boxer with comparable physical ability, Pacquiao would have real trouble. Against Jeff Horn, he had trouble with the raw physicality and bullish stubbornness of the Australian, who, actually, lacked the schooling and refinement to be juked into passivity by Manny’s weird ways (in other words, he didn’t know how to box well enough to be thrown off by Manny’s off-putting style).

Matthysse is neither skilled enough nor talented enough to cut directly into Pacquiao and, while aggressive, he’s also extremely orthodox in his boxing mindset. It’s hard to imagine any version of Matthysse being able to beat any version of Pacquiao.

But the defending titlist IS heavy-handed and the Hall of Fame challenger IS slowing down. A wild, fight-ending punch out of the blue is a greater possibility now than it would’ve been seven or eight years ago. Pacquiao, probably more than anyone, is aware of this and will box accordingly. Expect a fairly one-sided decision win in Pacquiao’s favor, unless Matthysse looks to be totally frustrated and spent by the later rounds and Manny sees a chance for a late stoppage ala the Miguel Cotto fight.

No matter who wins, though, don’t expect too much from the victor. A victorious Matthysse will likely be peddled off to the highest bidder as a “name” opponent with a belt by his promoter, Golden Boy. A triumphant Pacquiao will continue to travel down the path of least resistance, most likely remaining in Asia, and cherry-picking opponents who pose a risk on paper, but not so much in real life against his particular style.

All in all, Pacquiao-Matthysse is a nice second-tier welterweight fight between two recognizable names who have a history of putting on outstanding shows. The pairing of styles and deficiencies at this stage of their careers, however, may make for a less-than-scintillating affair where the promise of what COULD happen is more compelling than what’s actually happening.

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  1. No Mas 11:38am, 07/14/2018

    Once again, “Your name” is trolling and trying yet another PATHETIC attempt to get under someone’s skin. Magno seems to be a favorite target for this troll for some strange reason. Nothing hateful or anti-Pacquiao at all about this article.

  2. Your Name 11:02am, 07/14/2018

    Once again Magno offers a degrading opinion vs actual knowledge. Thinly veiled Pac Man hate mail.

  3. Chico Salmon 07:19am, 07/13/2018

    And this year’s Spider Rico Is He Still Around Award goes to Manny Pacquiao.

  4. Thrashem 04:45pm, 07/12/2018

    Two fantastic warriers, doesn’t who wins! Love them both for giving the fight fans what they want to see. That is what they are there for.and thanks!
    Manny will win ànd he still has won more fight in the bag. He beat, Horne and was screwed over by Ausse judges and ref. He won the fight in Vegas with a torn rotator cuff on points and they gave it to Mayweather because Vegas stood to lose $200,000,000. He clearly beat Timithy Bradley in the 1st fiight and lost to corupt judges. Only fight he clearly lost was against Marquez.
    Definitely one of the greatest fighter/boxers in the past 50 years.

  5. Casanovita de Ahome 04:05pm, 07/12/2018

    “Cherry picking” and Manny should never be in the same sentence….ever! “Off putting” style?! The most “off putting” style in recent years was when jacked to the gills JMM almost killed Manny! The only reason that bariatric chamber worked was because Memo Heredia was in there with him. “He (Horn) didn’t know how to box well enough to be thrown off by Manny’s off-putting style”. You got that part right and it reminds of fighters in showdown mega-fights that perform well because they are too Goddamned dense to realize the gravity of the situation.

  6. Roland 04:34am, 07/12/2018

    Good luck Manny! I am fan for years and years.  For me you are the one of the greatest of all.  I hope you win and later on retire with dignity and head up high…...GOD bless you Manny!

  7. Mike 03:52am, 07/12/2018

    Well, Pacman is still an elite fighter, IF he had time to train properly and not crammed up.  He had more time this time, so we shall see.  He knows What is at stake, so I guess he devoted more time to boxing than his other job.

    Furthermore, his trainers have him more rest. Can’t wait for the fight.

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