Pacquiao vs. Matthysse: Early Fight Predictions and MoreJuly 9, 2018
One year after a shocking defeat, boxing legend Manny Pacquiao will return to the ring as a challenger when he takes on Lucas Matthysse in a welterweight title fight on July 15 at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
When fans last saw Pacquiao between the ropes, he was at the wrong end of one of the more controversial decisions in recent years. Having spent 12 rounds outhitting and outworking up-and-coming Australian boxer Jeff Horn (in the latter's hometown of Brisbane), the Filipino was handed a unanimous-decision loss by the judges.
The result—no matter how unfair it seemed to many—was reviewed and upheld by the WBO, which saw him lose his WBO world welterweight title he had won just two fights earlier against Timothy Bradley Jr. and left his boxing future in doubt.
But it appears the 39-year-old is not yet finished with the sport, and he will look to add another world title to his resume when he takes on Matthysse, who holds the World Boxing Association world welterweight strap.
While PacMan tends to command a pay-per-view event, it might be easier for fans to check him out this time around. According to ESPN.com's Dan Rafael, the fight will stream live on ESPN+, the sports giant's subscription streaming service.
It was intended to be pay-per-view, but Rafael reports MP Promotions, Pacquiao's promoter, missed several deadlines to make it a pay-per-view.
Here's what you need to know to catch the bout.
Date: Sunday, July 15
Time: Undercard at 9 p.m. ET (Saturday), main event no earlier than 11 p.m. ET
Location: Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Live Stream: ESPN+
Early Fight Predictions
Matthysse is going to be a tough obstacle for Pacquiao in the latter's quest to win another world title. The 35-year-old Argentine is a fearless boxer with plenty of power, as evidenced by his 82 percent knockout rate.
While he's lost to most of his prominent opponents—Viktor Postol, Zab Judah, Danny Garcia have each handed him defeats—he's taken on some fine contenders and won.
He beat a then-undefeated Ajose Olusegun in 2012 to win his first world title in the super lightweight ranks. Matthysse has also earned stoppage wins over Lamont Peterson, Roberto Ortiz and John Molina Jr.
He has never quite cracked the upper echelon, but he's a fine gatekeeper and should provide a test for the aging Pacquiao.
Matthysse will look to bully Pacquiao and will probably be looking for the knockout in the middle rounds.
The Argentine, coming off a KO-win over Thailand's Tewa Kiram, no doubt respects Pacquiao's ability and status, but he generally likes to fight aggressively and get his opponents to wilt under a steady barrage of power punches.
He may try to feel out Pacquiao for a round or two longer than he might other opponents, but he will be loathe to give the veteran a chance to win this one on the cards.
"He has so much power in his punches that if he hits you with a left, he hits you with a right, he hurts you," said his trainer, Joel Diaz, per ABS-CBN.com.
"That's why I'm so confident that sooner or later, Manny Pacquiao has to exchange with Lucas, and if he catches him with either hand, it'll hurt."
In his younger days, Pacquiao was a torrent of fists and fury, and he was just as much a threat to end a fight early as he was to dazzle the judges and win the scorecard.
But it's been nine years since Pacquiao has won a fight by stoppage, when he knocked out Miguel Cotto in 2009. Since then, he's 9-4 as a fighter, with one of those losses coming by way of knockout, when Juan Manuel Marquez flattened him in 2012.
With his powers diminishing for years, he is more likely to rely on years of experience and his great technique if he feels he cannot match Matthysse's power.
This is not to suggest the titleholder shouldn't be wary of Pacquiao's power. Matthysse has suffered one knockout defeat of his own in his career, to Postol in 2015. Nobody would mistake the awkwardly effective Postol for a knockout artist, and yet it was a straight right to the temple in the 10th round of their contest that proved too much for Matthysse.
Pacquiao looked like he was on the verge of a stoppage late in his fight against Horn, but the Aussie incredibly found another wind and remained in the match. The Filipino still knows how to string together a good barrage, but it's been awhile since he has sealed the deal.
The fact Pacquiao wasn't able to outright dominate Horn, who was clobbered in June in a stoppage loss to Terence Crawford, doesn't bode well for his prospects against the dangerous Matthysse.
This fight will be a close one, but look for Matthysse to pull off a mini-shocker and stop Pacquiao in the late rounds.