With both fighters facing the tail ends of their careers, it was unclear how this bout would play out. At age 39, Pacquiao entered the ring with the same quirky confidence we’ve seen time-and-time again. The more stone-faced Matthysse entered focused and ready to go.
It was clear in the opening round that the Pac Man wanted to waste no time letting his hands go against La Maquina. For much of the fight, the pro-Pacquiao crowd was treated to vintage Pac.
It didn’t take long before the Filipino scored big, dropping Matthysse with a snappy left uppercut through the Matthysse guard in the third.
Following the knockdown, the Matthysse corner led by Joel Diaz, pleaded with their fighter to pressure Pacquiao and not fight on his back foot.
The fight progressed and Matthysse found himself on the canvas once more, this time from a right hand to the temple. Matthysse didn’t appear too hurt, but rather frustrated with the speed, timing and power of Pacquiao.
Once again, Diaz yelled in his fighter’s corner to step up the pace, but it seemed clear that barring a flash knockout from the Argentine power puncher, he was close to finished.
That finish would come in the seventh round after Pacquiao landed a body shot that floored Matthysse. Matthysee quickly spit out his mouthpiece, giving Kenny Bayless the signal that he wanted no more.
“He’s a great fighter and a great champion,” said a defeated Matthysse after the bout. “Things didn’t go my way. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Today was my turn to lose.”
Pacquiao quickly raced to the nearest corner after the final bell and embraced his fans who roared with excitement as their fighter was crowned the new WBA “regular” champion.
“Our plan was to counterpunch,” said Pacquiao. “We knew Matthysse was a strong puncher so we wanted to be careful.”
Despite his modest remarks about his opponent, Pacquiao was surprised with the early success in the fight.
“I was surprised because Matthysse is a tough fighter,” said Pacquiao. “I was able to catch him early and it was a bonus from staying patient.”
Pacquiao vaguely answered questions about whats next for him inside the square circle, but his performance did prove that he still has something left in the tank. Perhaps matchups with elite members of the division like Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford are a stretch, but there’s certainly still a fire burning inside of Manny Pacquiao.
— Ryan Songalia (@ryansongalia) July 15, 2018
All photos courtesy of REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin