Manny Pacquiao knocked Lucas Matthysse at 2:43 of the seventh round and claimed his 11th world title, the WBA "regular" welterweight belt Sunday morning (Saturday night in the US) at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
"I'm back," said Pacquiao
The fire is back in the eyes and belly of 39 year old Philippine senator Manny Pacquiao.
Proving his critics wrong, Pacquiao put on a clinic of sorts as he showed facets of his ring brilliance that were missing in his previous fights since 2009 where he last won by knockout.
Before a screaming horde of fans led by the heads of state of Malaysia and the Philippines, Pacquiao was brilliant, fast and accurate with his timing and combinations, completely frustrating and flustering the former WBA king.
"You have to love what you do in order to do what I still do as a 39-year-old fighter," said Pacquiao, who trained hardest despite his age, pushing himself to the limit.
But this time around, his new team of mostly Filipinos led by chief trainer Buboy Fernandez, acknowledged his conditions and custom-fit a new training regimen that brought back the power and the speed, however diminished a bit.
"Do I look old?," asked Pacquiao laughing in front of the members of media at the post-fight press conference.
Every masterful stroke dealt by Pacquiao befuddled Matthysse who secretly plotted to retire Pacquiao.
"Not today," said Pacquiao, who was cheered on by Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte who watched in the presidential suite with new Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. "Of course, it was an extra motivational tool for me to fight well and careful."
Fernandez warned his ward not to be too confident when he knocked down Matthysse for the second round, the Argentine taking a knee at the end of the fifth round.
"It might have been a trick. But we were ready for Matthysse," said a beaming Fernandez, who for the first time, acted as chief trainer aided by strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune and assistant Raides "Nonoy" Neri. Cutman Edgardo de la Vega was not much needed as Pacquiao was never in trouble.
"We will take a rest for now before we decide what to do next," said Pacquiao, who goes back to work this week as the Philippine Senate opens its sessions.