By Keith Idec
Oscar De La Hoya hopes Lucas Matthysse can beat Manny Pacquiao on Sunday.
Matthysse’s promoter suspects, though, that Matthysse can only successfully defend his WBA world welterweight title by knockout. If their 12-round, 147-pound championship bout goes the distance, De La Hoya figures Pacquiao will win because even at an advanced age, the 39-year-old Filipino southpaw will be too busy for Matthysse to out-point him.
“I think you have to take a look at Manny Pacquiao’s last fights,” De La Hoya told The Philippine Daily Inquirer after a press conference Thursday. “He hasn’t knocked somebody out since [Miguel] Cotto in 2009, so you have to take a look at that.”
Twelve of Pacquiao’s past 13 fights have gone the distance. Juan Manuel Marquez knocked Pacquiao unconscious in the sixth round of their fourth fight, which took place in December 2012 in Las Vegas.
Argentina’s Matthysse isn’t as precise or technically sound as Marquez, but he is a harder puncher. De La Hoya also expects Matthysse to take Pacquiao’s power well.
“Lucas has a good chin,” said De La Hoya, who retired after losing to Pacquiao by technical knockout in December 2008. “If Manny wins, he’s gonna win by decision. If Lucas wins, I think he will win by knockout because Manny Pacquiao throws a lot of punches. He’s too busy. He’s not gonna lose [on points] in front of his hometown crowd. He’s determined.”
Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs, 1 NC) will make his first defense of the WBA world welterweight title against Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The 35-year-old Matthysse knocked out Thailand’s Tewa Kiram (38-1, 28 KOs) in the eighth round January 27 at The Forum in Inglewood, California, to win a vacant version of the WBA’s welterweight championship.
The Pacquiao-Matthysse match is expected to begin late Sunday morning in Kuala Lumpur.
It’ll be streamed live in the United States on Saturday night as the main event of a doubleheader. The ESPN+ coverage of the Pacquiao card will start at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
In the first fight, the Philippines’ Jhack Tepora (21-0, 16 KOs) and Mexico’s Edivaldo Ortega (26-1-1, 12 KOs) will square off for the WBA’s interim featherweight title.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.