By Keith Idec
Teddy Atlas afforded Manny Pacquiao as much credit as the ESPN analyst felt was reasonable.
Atlas admitted during a “SportsCenter” appearance after Pacquiao stopped Lucas Matthysse that Pacquiao’s performance was impressive. Atlas also pointed out that he thinks having a faded fighter in front of him helped Pacquiao produce his first knockout in nearly nine years.
“You hit a heavy bag, you look good,” Atlas told host Kenny Mayne. “You know what I mean?”
Atlas then explained to Mayne why he thinks Pacquiao’s supporters shouldn’t get too excited about the Filipino legend’s resurgence.
“Look, all you Pacquiao maniac fans out there – no disrespect,” Atlas said. “Give him a lot of credit, 39 years old, he got the job done, he looked good. Yes, against a 36-year-old who, in the end, he quit. A diminished Matthysse, he did not fight, he did not try. In very little spots he threw [punches]. For the most part, he was a passive guy who looked like he was just getting paid.”
The 39-year-old Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) dropped Matthysse once apiece in the third, fifth and seventh rounds of his first fight in more than a year. Referee Kenny Bayless stopped their scheduled 12-round fight for Matthysse’s WBA world welterweight title once the 35-year-old Matthysse (39-5, 36 KOs, 1 NC) went to one knee after that third knockdown and spit out his mouthpiece.
“You can’t knock him,” Atlas said of Pacquiao. “You can’t knock him off this. The only thing you can knock if you’re gonna be really thorough, if you’re gonna really X-ray-vision this fight, and you’re gonna be really honest about it, you’ll look at what I just said. You’ll look at Matthysse, 36 years old, 45 fights, at the end he took a knee. He quit. He looked like he was gonna quit in the fifth round, when he got hit [with] that punch that barely touched him.
“You know, it might’ve been up top, around the temple, which can be a spot. It was a delayed knockdown. He took a knee. It looked like he was thinking about not continuing at that point. And then, two rounds later he does get hit again. Good uppercut, just like he did in the third round. He gets dropped with that punch. The right hand blinded him a little bit [before the left landed].”
Pacquiao’s performance against Argentina’s Matthysse hasn’t convinced Atlas he can compete with younger elite welterweights like Terence Crawford, Errol Spence Jr. or Keith Thurman.
“I’m not gonna forget that he’s 39 years old and has 69 fights, and that he fought a guy that had Everlast printed on his forehead [Sunday]. So I’m not gonna lie to myself. I’m gonna remind myself, ‘Hey, if I get in there with these young bulls that are in the welterweight division,’ and don’t make a mistake about it, the welterweight division is as loaded as any division. … When you’re talking about Thurman, you’re talking about Spence, you’re talking about all these guys that are in there – Crawford – I’m saying that I would be very, very careful, even after this nice performance.
“Again, remember who it was against. Remember what it was against. Don’t lie to yourself. You start getting in there with that different pool that I just described, these young tigers, these young bulls, well, guess what? Then you might see Pacquiao look 40 years old.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.