It took almost a full decade since his last knockout win, but on Sunday July 15 Manny Pacquiao reminded everyone, especially his fans, that there's still so much more left in him.
Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 Kos), who will turn 40 years old in December, erased rising suspicions that he was definitely past his prime by showing scenarios of his old self in a one-sided boxing takedown of Argentine brawler Lucas Matthysse at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
With the audience cheering him on, the senator by day and icon for Filipino people relied on speed and awkward angles to score his first knockout since he finished Miguel Cotto in 2009 when he was at the peak of his boxing prime.
Pacquiao, the only boxer in history to win titles in 8 divisions, also claimed Matthysse's WBA regular welterweight title.
Pacquiao said, "Thank God for this victory. This is all dedicated to God and all the Filipino people. Thank you to our country and our president for watching this fight."
Rumors of Pacquiao's downfall, which were influenced in part by his confusing decision to cut ties with Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, proved to be far too presumptuous as strength coach Justine Fortune and longtime cornerman Buboy Fernandes took over the reins. When compared to his disputed decision loss to Jeff Horn last July in their title bout, this time around Pacquiao looked very focused and prepared.
Pacquiao said, "We did a good job and my team in training. We were not pushing hard like we did when we were very young. We controlled ourselves in the training but it's heavy training. Thanks to all of my team for working hard in this fight."
Naturally the headlines will mainly feature Pacquiao's renewed strength, however on the other side, the 35-year-old Lucas Matthysse did not put up too much of a resistance. Matthysse (39-5, 36 KOs) looked quite slow and disinterested as he struggled throughout dealing with Pacquiao's speed and footwork.
Not only did Matthysse's reputation for being a vicious power puncher fail to show up in this fight, he also was unable to adjust on the elite level after he fell behind and was knocked down 3 times in total, including at Round 5 when he voluntarily took a knee after a couple of jabs to his temple.
Pacquiao said, "Matthysse has the power also so we were taking care in the ring with hands up all the time and doing my best. I'm surprised [he was knocked down three times] because Matthysse is a very tough opponent. I knocked him down and that's a bonus for being focused and patient and in the fight and working hard in training."
Pacquiao outlanded Matthysse 344 to 246 and was able to connect 44% of his power shots. Aside from landing body shots on lead left hands to slow his opponent down, Pacquiao repeatedly caught him leaning forward with uppercuts that effectively split the guard.
In Round 3, Matthysse was floored with an uppercut. After taking a knee and appearing as if he may quit two rounds after, he was sent down for the final time in Round 7 with a left uppercut. After sitting up to one knee, Matthysse spit out his mouthpiece, which prompted referee Kenny Bayless to wave off the fight at time 2:43 of the round.
When asked after the match on what was the most difficult part of facing Pacquiao, Matthysse said, "To fight Manny Pacquiao. He's a great fighter and a great champion."
Even though he lost, Matthysse said he wasn't going to retire, "Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Today was my turn to lose and I lost to a great fighter and a great legend in Manny Pacquiao. [I'm going to] take a rest, take a break. I worked really hard and I want to go back home to my family. This is part of boxing that you win some and lose some. Today was my turn to lose but nothing more."
Bob Arum of Top Rank, Pacquiao's Hall of Fame promoter, had revealed in recent weeks about his plan to match the boxing legend against pound-for-pound king and lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko later this year. The pay-per-view bout, which would most likely be extremely popular, could immediately catapult Lomachenko to stardom in the same way that Pacquiao did after he defeated an aging Oscar De La Hoya back in 2008.
Pacquiao was tight-lipped when asked which foe he wanted to fight next, "That's another story and another discussion. Right now, I'm happy to go back to my country in the Philippines and to celebrate the victory and, of course, doing my job as a public servant. We are planned [to fight again in 2018]. We have not decided yet. Right now my focus is to go back to my country and, of course, relax."