By Allan Cerf and John J. Raspanti
The fight was in grave doubt but reports claim the money has been wired. So it’s Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao, versus Lucas “The Machine” Matthysse, July 14, in Kula Lampur, Malaysia (ESPN+) welterweights.
Expect great entertainment and a fight serving as a barometer on the future prospects of both combatants.
Ring Magazine Editor, Doug Fischer, says Manny’s been phoning it in since 2011. If so, that’s some phone booth – he still is sporadically, brilliant. Pacquiao “losing” (lets qualify that) to Jeff Horn last year seemed unfathomable.
But what Pacquiao did lose during the bout was focus. He looked like a guy who was questioning his choice of professions. Maybe, after swallowing his own blood, he figured it was better being a Senator. Better but not nearly as rewarding financially.
Lucas Matthysse has an incredibly fan-friendly style and great skill - but the misfortune of opponents that were a notch above him at 140 and now, at 147. In fact, no fewer than three welters would decimate him. He’s peaked. He’s like K2 – a high, mountain indeed – but not Everest.
Matthysse hasn’t looked sharp since knocking out Lamont Peterson five years ago. His wars with Danny Garcia and John Molina Jr. were thrilling, but seemed to take something out of him. Victor Postol tuned up “The Machine” and spit him out. He looked bored and and listless in his last fight.
Fighter’s Scorecards: (Speed, Power, Defense, Reach, Age, Stamina, Experience)
Lucas Matthysse: B B+ B B-B B- B (Average of all) B (3.0 GPA)
Manny Pacquiao: A A B C+ C B+ A (Average of all) B (3.2 GPA)
Reality Check: Manny Pacquiao is one of the most talented fighters not named Floyd to come along in the last thirty years. Matthysse, as experts know, actually has very good defensive skills yet manages to lose defensive focus at the worst possible moments – perhaps because he prefers offense?
I honestly have no idea if the 39-year-old Pacquiao is shot or disinterested. Remember when, just before Sergio Martinez took on Cotto, all of boxing knew Martinez was “old overnight?” I’ve no idea if this applies to Pacquiao.
In training footage he looks pretty dang fast – in a way that shot fighters don’t. Pacman appears to have big advantages in speed, and footwork.
Pacquiao has faced far, far greater opponents than the Argentinian. Yet, he’s increasingly there to be hit, like all older fighters.
And Matthysse can still punch.
Fight and Prediction: At face value, it’s an all-time great, matched with a talented guy who has to peaked and a future Hall of Famer. What is not for debate is the pride of both former champions. I expect them to lay it all on the line Saturday night. The winner will remain relevant while the loser should go home.
So who wins?
If Pacquiao is in steep decline, it’s a pick em’ fight – and I’ll lean towards Matthysse actually defeating the legend in a way Jeff Horn didn’t – except on the scorecards. However, I think Pacquiao has a lot left and wins a commanding decision. I wouldn’t be shocked if he won by stoppage, his first in ten years. He’s due.
Then what? Pacquiao against Crawford, Thurman or Spence?
He can’t go on forever and shouldn’t try.
And so – ageless wonder or mirage? Let’s just see.