GENERAL SANTOS CITY-- Manny Pacquiao and Lucas Matthysse stepped up their respective training sessions a notch higher as preparations for "Fight of Champions" entered its hardest stages this week.
Pacquiao is all business these days as he is focusing on the most challenging fight of his career. He sparred for 10 rounds Thursday afternoon and gave out a big smile to his supporters, saying, "it's good to be back."
So inspired is Pacquiao that he is concentrating on just winning the fight that he wants most. He delegated management of MP Promotions, the lead promoter of his July 15 (July 14 in the US) battle at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to his trusted lieutenants.
Matthysse, the welterweight champion who vowed to defend with his life and bring back to his country Argentina the WBA "regular" crown that he won early this year, is also as determined to retire the only eight-division and 10-time champion in boxing history.
Pacquiao's sparring will reach the full 12 rounds next week even as Matthysse's trainer Joel Diaz has laid out an elaborate game-plan to score a win for his dangerous pupil, a boxer who has knocked out 36 of the 39 opponents he has faced in the past.
"As far as I am concerned, everything is fine," said Pacquiao, responding to rumors that the fight is headed to a postponement or even cancellation. "Lucas Matthysse and I are getting ready to give the fans their money's worth and July 15 will be huge for boxing in Malaysia."
Pacquiao assigned a team to take care of business and logistics as he concentrated in training alone.
Marketing and sales head Arnold Vegafria echoed Pacquiao's sentiments. Vegafria, who was monitoring news online on a plane heading back to the Philippines from New York City, said that all concerned decision makers were in agreement with each other.
"Everyone is on board. Everyone understands the situation and the fight is going as planned," said Vegafria.
Aside from the Pacquiao Vs Matthysse championship, three more world title fights are in store for hardcore boxing fans including the World Boxing Association featherweight bout between Edivaldo Ortega of Mexico, (26-1-1, 12 KOs) and Jhack Tepora of the Philippines (21-0, 16 KOs).
Chinese amateur sensation and Olympian Lu Bin will challenge Carlos Canizales of Venezuela, the WBA light flyweight champion (20-0-1). Another world championship pits IBF flyweight title holder Moruti Mthalane of South Africa and Muhammad Waseem of Pakistan.