Pacquiao vs Matthysse prediction: PacMan playing with fire
Tonight, 39 year old fight legend Manny Pacquiao steps into the ring against exciting 35 year old knockout artist Lucas Matthysse.
Will Pacquiao vs Matthysse be the legend's last fight?
"He's never been beaten up ... it's gonna happen if he sticks around," stated RING Magazine's Ryan Songalia recently on Randy Gordon's SiriusXM boxing radio show.
The fight will come down to this: Can PacMan avoid Lucas' bombs for 12 rounds? And should he get buzzed, will PacMan have the resolve to recover and continue to pile up points en route to winning a decision?
Pacquiao vs Matthysse prediction: Matthysse KO 9 Pacquiao
I see Manny blazing early on. Look for him to use his speed and movement to land combinations and build an early lead. But as the fight goes on, I see Matthysse getting closer and closer, and finally catching a slowing Pacquiao in the back half of the fight.
Inactivity, the Senate and age: At 39, Manny is not young as springtime anymore. And while a 39-year-old old can certainly fight and win at boxing's highest levels, he must be extremely disciplined and focused. He must eat and breath boxing - And Pacquiao, as a senator with weighty public service obligations, certainly hasn't been doing that.
Moreover, Manny hasn't fought in a year and has stepped in the ring only three times since his 2015 superfight with Floyd Mayweather. Manny has become a part-time fighter.
So, it's not PacMan’s age, inactivity or public service obligations that concern me... It's the combination of the three that read like a recipe for disaster, considering the level of opposition.
Most recent fights
Manny was slighted in his decision loss to Jeff Horn last year but let's not fool ourselves; Pacquiao failed to look good against an opponent who shouldn't have been in the same ring. And that's concerning given his opponent tonight is more experienced and more dangerous than Jeff Horn.
And while many fans were critical of Lucas Matthysse's 8th Round knockout over Tewa Kiram in January, the Argentine was impressive in several ways.
Yes, he looked sluggish and the fight wasn't a barnburner, but Lucas overcame formidable obstacles to secure the knockout.
Kiram entered the bout 38-0, 28 KO and isn't the type of opponent who is easy to look good against. Yet, instead of coasting to a points win, the 35 year old Matthysse found a way to knockout a confident, unbeaten, naturally larger foe who had youth on his side.
Matthysse solved the puzzle. And in doing so, he not only showed his punching power was still intact, he proved he still has the heart, fire and tenacity to dig deep down inside.
The onus is on Manny to fight flawlessly.
A fighter like Lucas Matthysse, unlike Jeff Horn or even Floyd Mayweather, always has a "puncher's chance."
Given his punching power and relentlessness, Matthysse showed, even at welterweight, he's a threat until the final bell. No matter how sluggish he looks or how far he's behind on the cards, Matthysse is always in the fight.
The KO artist can get away with making a few mistakes but Manny cannot.
Can Manny, at this stage of his career and having so many outside-the-ring obligations, fight mistake-free for all 36 minutes?
Another intangible that seemingly favors Lucas is hunger. Despite finding a lot of success in boxing, Matthysse has never fought in the main event of a true "big fight" - a bout with international publicity. His biggest fight to date was his scrap with Danny Garcia in 2013 on the Mayweather vs Canelo undercard. Garcia won a points verdict and Lucas has been salavating at the opportunity for a rematch ever since.
Tonight represents a real opportunity for the Argentine and, rest-assured, he had no problems getting motivated in training. At 35, Lucas Mattysse is still a hungry fighter and realizes he may never again get the opportunity to fight on a stage as large as tonight's. He wants the money, fame and respect Manny Pacquiao has enjoyed for quite some time - and will be top form, if not the best shape of his life, because of it.
Remember Pacquiao vs De La Hoya?
Manny had that fire... That tenacity... That hunger. He wanted to win more than Oscar and was in tremendous shape.
There was nothing De La Hoya could have done to beat Pacquiao that night.
But we haven't seen that version of Pacquiao in years. He's been winning fights due to his skills and athleticism so his hunger, or lack thereof, hasn't been a factor.
If tonight's fighters are evenly matched, Lucas' proverbial 'Eye of the Tiger' could be the difference in a close battle of attrition. He's probably trained harder, is more focused and wants to win more than Manny at this point.
After one of the most successful fighter/trainer stints in all of boxing, Manny Pacquiao and his mentor, Freddie Roach, have parted ways. Trainer Freddie Roach was not involved in Manny's preparations for the legend's July showdown with Lucas Matthysse and seems to have been permanently ousted from Team Pacquiao.
It's not uncommon for fighters at the end of the road to do this because they trick themselves into thinking that magic bullet, in the form of a new coach with new strategies, will serve as the remedy for what ails them. Mike Tyson had three trainers for his last five fights.
And let's not forget, it was Roach who warned Manny the latter's senatorial obligations would interfere with his boxing. And it was also Roach who suggested Pacquiao should retire from the sport following the Horn defeat.
Ideally, Roach would have been let go prior to Pacquiao vs Horn or Pacquiao vs Vargas, less dangerous endeavors for PacMan. But given the circumstances and level of opposition, it's probably not a good time for Team Pacquiao to experiment.
Thoughts on Manny Pacquiao
As someone in the sports media, I don't play favorites nor do I allow my personal biases to influence my reporting.
But today, I will break away from that and proudly admit I'm a huge Manny Pacquiao fan and will be rooting for him tonight. Over the years, I've been inspired by his ring prowess, humble demeanor and tireless dedication to help those less fortunate.
He's a class act.
And because of those things, he deserves to end his career on a high note.
... But, for the reasons listed in this article, I have concerns about tonight.
What is your Pacquiao vs Matthysse prediction?
Update: Manny Pacquiao made me eat my words tonight. He looked brilliant!
Result: Pacquiao TKO 7 Matthysse