The big question which surrounds the fight on Saturday night is a question that has been asked a few times previously, What more does Manny Pacquiao have left, then, of course, the trailing question, is that enough to beat Lucas Matthysse?
Manny finds himself teetering on the verge of falling from contention, a loss here will result in a long search within himself to ask the questions we have been asking of him for a while.
Coming into the contest without a familiar face in his corner, Pacquiao will be venturing into the bout without his mainstay Freddie Roach which could be telling in an engaging encounter. His last fight was a controversial loss to Jeff Horn, I for one thought he had done enough but it spoke volumes of a fighter on the downward spiral of his career because in reality the words ‘controversial’ wouldn’t have been needed had Pacquiao had been in his prime, possibly the judges wouldn’t have been needed either.
Sure Pacquiao looks good when footage emerges from his training camp of him putting together ten punch combinations whilst the bounce is evident in his step, but came fight night he isn’t the same version of a fighter who annihilated Miguel Cotto, Oscar De La Hoya, Antonio Margarito and many others which could fill the space of this preview.
There was also a time where Lucas Matthysse’s name was spoken in hushed tones, the big punching Argentine machine had ploughed his way through most opposition, a few blemishes against Zab Judah and Devon Alexander were ones that could have gone either way in split decision losses.
But what I’m trying to say is that not many can say they shared a boxing ring with Matthysse and came away with wins or without his senses intact. A loss to Danny Garcia was the real sinker for Matthysse, followed by another title loss to Victor Postol found a fighter that had decided he had given enough to the sport as he decided to take a semi-retirement.
That was that, the machine had run out of the fuel needed to commit but as we all know well enough its never that easy to walk away from a sport that you have given your life too, a big fight was promised and beating Emmanuel Taylor and the tall rangy Tewa Kiram handed him the WBA title that became more enticing for the bigger names in the division.
Cue one of the biggest names in Manny Pacquiao in a fight that was made in the unlikeliest of settings in Kuala Lumpur.
On the run-up to the fight, seeing a subpar performance by Pacquiao in his defeat to Horn mixed with his move away from Roach, has the majority believing he is ripe for the picking, but is he?
Whenever Lucas Matthysse’s name is brought in to debate, the one synonymous attribute which is raised is the power he possesses but to just look at this area would do him an injustice.
Matthysse holds a solid jab, able to dictate action with his front foot approach, similar to the tactics used by Gennady Golovkin to a lesser extent, enabling him to win rounds by bullying opposition.
The skills although slightly faded are enough for fight fans to see a big Mattysse win to send the great ‘Pacman’ into retirement with a loss as devastating as the one he suffered against Juan Manuel Marquez.
Do I feel the same?
I don’t, Pacquiao it doesn’t need me to tell you, isn’t the same fighter we are used to seeing set the boxing world alight, He is in fact in this writers opinion a shadow of his former self but even so, I feel or perhaps I’ve wanted to believe he has one more big fight left in him.
Manny still does a lot of things well, even in his advanced age, he is still quick with his hand speed, always looking to throw shots that are out of the eye line of opposition, a trait that throughout his career has become his trademark and can be difficult to judge whether he is moving into position or poised to throw a straight shot, its unpredictable nature has fooled the majority of his opponents, only a select few great counterpunchers such as Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez and of course Floyd Mayweather were able to work out.
That being said, I would be foolish to think that this was going to be a cake walk as I would have expected prime vs prime, the fact is that Pacquiao has diminished enough to have me in two minds on a winner but taking everything into account I feel he still has one last hurrah left in him to dethrone Matthysse.
Or maybe it’s just wishful thinking
Keep a look out for our staff picks this coming Friday and please let me know your thoughts by tweeting me @TOPCLASSBOXING.