WBA "regular" welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse saluted Manny Pacquiao on Thursday but vowed to beat the Filipino boxing legend when they square off on Sunday [Saturday in America].
"He is a great champion but he still hasn't faced 'The Machine'," Argentina's Matthysse told reporters at a packed press conference in Kuala Lumpur. "If he decides to retire after I beat him then that is his decision, I am here to defend my title."
Pacquiao, who is chasing a 60th win of his long career, will turn 40 in December and has not fought since losing his WBO welterweight belt to Australia's Jeff Horn in Brisbane a year ago.
Knockout specialist Matthysse has finished 36 of his 39 wins inside the distance and won the vacant WBA belt after an eighth-round stoppage of Thailand's Teerachai Sithmorseng in January.
Pacquiao was thrown out of kilter by Horn's rough-house tactics a year ago and the Filipino's conditioning coach, Justin Fortune, said they had prepared for similar from the aggressive Argentine.
"This guy Matthysse is a lot better than Jeff Horn, he punches a lot harder," Fortune told AFP.
"We are expecting the same sort of methods as Horn," added Fortune, who said the appointment of experienced American referee Kenny Bayless would ensure Matthysse couldn't get away with anything illegal.
"He's a very fair ref and he won't stand for any head butts, any elbows, anything like that," said Fortune.
Now in the twilight of a 23-year professional career, Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) has not stopped an opponent for nine years as he juggles his boxing career with being an elected senator.
His last stoppage victory came in December of 2009, when he put away Miguel Cotto in the twelfth round.
Pacquiao, who is idolised by tens of millions in the Philippines, defied calls to retire after the Horn defeat, but said in May that his performance in Sunday's fight could well determine his future in the ring.