By Keith Idec
Bob Arum’s plan called for Manny Pacquiao to face a less imposing opponent in the Filipino icon’s comeback from his controversial loss to Jeff Horn.
Pacquiao’s longtime promoter wanted Pacquiao to fight faded Mike Alvarado as part of the Horn-Terence Crawford card in Las Vegas. To his credit, Pacquiao picked hard-hitting Lucas Matthysse for a welterweight title fight that’ll take place July 14 in Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia (pay-per-view).
The Pacquiao-Matthysse match will be officially announced during a press conference Wednesday in Manila.
“I think it’s a tough fight,” Arum told BoxingScene.com. “I think it’s a dangerous fight for Manny at this stage of his career. Matthysse hits like a truck. Manny has got to get himself ready and has to forget for a while his senatorial duties.”
The 39-year-old Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) won’t have fought in more than a year by the time he steps into the ring to challenge Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs, 1 NC) for the Argentine champion’s WBA 147-pound championship. The full-time senator/part-time boxer hasn’t boxed since Horn (18-0-1, 12 KOs) upset him by unanimous decision to take the WBO welterweight title from Pacquiao on July 2 in Brisbane, Australia, Horn’s hometown.
Arum – who reiterated that his company, Top Rank Inc., still has promotional ties to Pacquiao – would’ve preferred for Pacquiao to ease back into boxing before taking a tougher fight later this year, perhaps against the Crawford-Horn winner. The 35-year-old Matthysse knocked out Thailand’s Tewa Kiram (38-1, 28 KOs) in the eighth round to win a vacant version of the WBA’s welterweight championship January 28 at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
“I have no idea what to expect with Pacquiao,” Arum said. “I’ve never seen him come off this kind of layoff, except for after the Mayweather fight because he had the operation [on his shoulder]. But when he came back from the Mayweather fight and the surgery, he was sharp as hell with [Timothy] Bradley. So we’ll have to see, but it’s a very tough fight for Manny.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.