Can Manny Pacquiao Bounce Back Against Lucas Matthysse?
First, we’re going to assume this fight is going on as planned on July 15 at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A dark cloud has hung over the card ever since Bob Arum — Pacquiao’s long-time promoter (except for this matchup) and head of Top Rank Promotions — said it was on the verge of being canceled due to financial hurdles.
With that out of the way, it’ll be Pacquiao’s (59-7-2, 38 KOs) first bout in a year, last “losing” to Joe Horn via unanimous decision. Despite Pac-Man landing more punches in 11 of 12 rounds and almost double overall, Horn was awarded a shocking unanimous decision win. Most agree it was a “hometown decision” as the fight took place in Horn’s hometown of Brisbane, Australia.
The Argentinian-born Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs) is four years Pacquiao’s junior and will be defending the WBA welterweight championship, which he won with an eighth-round knockout over Tewa Kiram — who entered the contest a perfect 38-0 — earlier this year.
TopBet is giving Pacquiao favorable odds ahead of the title clash. They’ll have your best lines until fight night in two weeks — so make sure to check them out for all your wagering needs!
Lucas Matthysse (+160) vs. Manny Pacquiao (-200)
Both fighters have made a career out of freakish power. Pacquiao is a human battering ram with convincing wins over some of boxing’s biggest names — Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Timothy Bradley, etc. Whereas 14 of Matthysse’s last 15 wins have been via stoppage.
Nonetheless, you can’t overlook the two’s age. It’s been years since either one was in their prime. Immediately, we’re ruling out this one ending in a knockout victory for all you prop bettors out there.
Look, Pac-Man hasn’t won a fight via stoppage since a TKO victory over Cotto in 2009. That’s nearly a decade! In the same token, he’s lost via KO just three times over his career — twice early in his career back in the ’90s and the other six years ago versus Juan Manuel Marquez, who was in all likelihood on the juice at the time.
We get it, it’s boxing, and one perfectly-placed punch can end any bout. However, with a combined 111 professional fights between the two, they have enough boxing IQ to avoid that devastating punch. There’s little doubt in our mind that this fight’s going the distance.
Even though we don’t think Matthysse will drop Pacquiao to the canvas, he still has the punching power advantage. After all, he’s a guy that’s won 92 percent of his bouts via knockout.
Pacquiao should be able to counter Matthysse’s strength with speed, which remains his biggest asset. Against Horn, Pacquiao connected on 182 of 573 blows (32 percent), hinting that his aggressiveness and hand speed remain viable weapons. By comparison, Matthysse landed a measly 59 of 246 punches (24 percent) his last time out. Clear edge goes to Pac-Man in punching speed.
Size-wise, Matthysse holds a slim edge. At 5-foot-6, he’s an inch taller than Pacquiao. Reach also benefits Matthysse by two inches.
But here’s what will be the biggest difference-maker: no Freddie Roach. The all-time great trainer has been in Pacquiao’s corner since coming to the United States in 2001. Pacquiao’s longtime friend and assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez will take Roach’s place. Details about the exit have been mum, but reportedly Pac-Man didn’t even notify Roach of the switch, hinting bad blood.
Whatever the reason for the split, it has to have some impact on Pacquiao. You don’t end a partnership that resulted in a record-setting eight-division championships and 34-fight streak without feeling some negative side effects.
Aside from removing Roach, Pacquiao’s entire approach ahead of this fight is concerning. Here’s a guy who is the senator of the Philippines, which conceivably cuts into his training time. He’s also promoting the fight under his MP Promotions banner. Months away from turning 40, it raises the questions, is this fight just a quick paycheck for Pacquiao? Probably.
We’re riding with Matthysee in this one. He’s more focused and remains a ferocious puncher despite his age. That power should overwhelm Pacquiao, who is on his last legs and has absorbed an insame amount of punishment during his 68-fight career.
Pick: Lucas Matthysse (+160)
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