by Cliff Rold
A Saturday night Manny Pacquiao pay-per-view is something fans have grown accustomed to over the last dozen years or so. This one will only cost the monthly subscription rate of the ESPN+ app.
That’s about $95 less than the Mayweather fight and, while Pacquiao’s controversial loss to Jeff Horn garnered an impressive television rating, it’s fair to say the allure of time gone by has, well, gone bye.
That doesn’t mean he can’t entertain and this fight has the makings of something interesting. Old gunslingers squaring off with the bullets they’ve got left can be great theatre. Who they can or can’t beat after this fight won’t matter for twelve scheduled rounds. In one corner, an all time great who isn’t what he was anymore; in the other, a fighter who never got quite as far as it looked like he might.
They both need a win to stay viable for bigger money down the road.
Let’s get into it.
Stats and Stakes
Previous Titles: Lineal/WBC World Flyweight (1998-99, 1 Defense); IBF Super Bantamweight 2001-03, 4 Defenses); Lineal/Ring World Featherweight (2003-05, 2 Defenses); Lineal/Ring/WBC World Jr. Lightweight (2008); WBC Lightweight (2008-09); Lineal/Ring World Jr. Welterweight (2009-10); WBC Light Middleweight (2010); WBO Welterweight, (2009-12, 3 Defenses; 2014-15, 1 Defense; 2016-17, 1 Defense); TBRB Welterweight (2016; Retired)
Height: 5’5 ½
Weight: 146 lbs.
Hails from: General Santos City, Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
Record: 59-7-2, 38 KO, 3 KOBY
Press Rankings: #4 (ESPN), #5 (TBRB), #6 (Ring), #7 (Boxing Monthly)
Record in Major Title Fights: 20-4-2, 11 KO, 1 KOBY (including Lineal title Fights)
Last Five Opponents: 143-2-2 (.980)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: Chatchai Sasakul KO8; Medgoen Singsurat TKO3; Lehlo Ledwaba KO6; Agapito Sanchez Tech. Draw 6; Jorge Eliecer Julio TKO2; Marco Antonio Barrera TKO11, UD12; Juan Manuel Marquez D12, SD12, MD12, KO by 6; Erik Morales L12, TKO10, KO3; Oscar Larios UD12; David Diaz TKO9; Oscar De La Hoya RTD8; Ricky Hatton KO2; Miguel Cotto TKO12; Joshua Clottey UD12; Antonio Margarito UD12; Shane Mosley UD12; Timothy Bradley L12, UD12, UD12; Brandon Rios UD12; Chris Algieri UD12; Floyd Mayweather L12; Jessie Vargas UD12; Jeff Horn L12
Title: WBA welterweight (sub-title; 2018-Present, 1stattempted defense)
Previous Titles: None
Height: 5’6 ½
Weight: 146 ¾ lbs.
Hails from: Trelew, Chubut, Argentina
Record: 39-4, 36 KO, 1 KOBY
Press Rankings: #8 (Ring, Boxing Monthly), #9 (ESPN)
Record in Major Title Fights: 1-2, 1 KO, 1 KOBY including WBA sub-title fights; 4-2, 4 KO, 1 KOBY including interim WBC title fights
Last Five Opponents: 140-7-1 (.949)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: Zab Judah L12; DeMarcus Corley TKO8; Devon Alexander L12; Humberto Soto RTD5; Lamont Peterson TKO3; Danny Garcia L12; Ruslan Provodnikov MD12; Viktor Postol KO by 10
The Case for Pacquiao: - Pacquiao doesn’t want to get into another fight where he is forced to grapple in the trenches like he did with Horn. His offensive dynamism at peak didn’t always give credit to the all around boxing ability Pacquiao could display. In his last two wins, he used variety, movement, and smart engagement to win the bulk of the rounds against Jessie Vargas and Timothy Bradley. He needs to fight Matthysse smart, not provide a stationary target, and avoid prolonged exchanges. He is capable of beating Matthysse as much with his feet as his hands by not letting the Argentine set up to find him. Does he have the legs for that at this point? If it turns into a war, does a 39-year old Pacquiao really feel the need to suffer through the pain? Manny Pacquiao has never shown quit and chances are he’ll go out on his shield if he has to.
The Case for Matthysse: - Matthysse is an awkward fighter who can be cerebral for a puncher. He sets his shots up well and doesn’t look for one shot at a time. Even as he’s shown some physical decline in terms of speed and energy, his wins are coming inside the route. He is still a dangerous fighter if not the potential steamroller of the Lamont Peterson win. When hurt, his track record is mostly positive and facing another power puncher doesn’t deter him. He ate vicious shots from Ruslan Provodnikov and came off the floor to stop John Molina. In contrast, he was stopped by Viktor Postol in surprising fashion, but that was with his orbital bone broken as he took the ten count. Desire can’t be undersold here. Matthysse might not have the ‘real’ WBA belt at welterweight but it’s something to hold on to and this is his biggest chance to shake the impression that he’s a guy who never quite got all the way there. He had bad luck against Zab Judah in a close fight, awful luck against Devon Alexander in a fight many thought he deserved, and faltered as a favorite against Danny Garcia. Here, the pressure is really on Pacquiao but the rewards for a win have to be a big motivator. If he can hurt Pacquiao, land between the spot flurries that are Pacquiao’s pace these days, he has a chance to finish the legend.
The Pick: Pacquiao showed wear against Jeff Horn even if one thought he deserved to win. In a younger year, Pacquiao probably finishes what he started in the ninth round and doesn’t have to worry about the judges. The older Pacquiao didn’t have that extra kick he needed down the stretch against a young, physically strong guy. Matthysse isn’t young and it’s not clear he has that sort of kick either in a protracted battle. Both on their best day, Pacquiao would be the easier pick here. His best was substantially better. The remaining power of Matthysse gives pause. He’s aging but Pacquiao is almost forty with almost twice as many fights. Given what we’ve seen in the ring, and no one has seen Pacquiao in a year, there appears to be still enough speed to outbox Matthysse for enough of the fight to avoid a disaster. The pick is Pacquiao but both men might have to come off the floor before it’s done.
Additional Saturday Picks:
Jr. welterweight - TBRB #3 Regis Prograis TKO Juan Velasco
Flyweight – TBRB #4 Moruti Mthalane Dec Muhammad Waseem
Rold Picks 2018: 21-9
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]