By Keith Idec
Manny Pacquiao didn’t just add another title to the long list of championships he has won during his 23-year, Hall-of-Fame career.
By beating Lucas Matthysse on Sunday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the Filipino icon moved into position to eventually fight Keith Thurman. Pacquiao won the WBA world welterweight title from Matthysse, but Thurman owns the WBA’s “super” welterweight title and is its true 147-pound champion.
The WBA could appoint Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) as its mandatory challenger for Thurman. The 39-year-old southpaw entered his fight against Argentina’s Matthysse (39-5, 36 KOs, 1 NC), who was knocked down three times on his way to losing by seventh-round technical knockout, as the WBA’s No. 1 contender at 147 pounds.
Thurman, 29, is expected to take a tune-up bout when he returns from a hand injury that postponed his return from May 19 to an undetermined date. The often-injured Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs, 1 NC) had elbow surgery 14½ months ago and hasn’t fought since he defeated Danny Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs) by split decision in their welterweight title unification fight in March 2017 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
A reporter asked Pacquiao in a post-fight press conference Sunday if Thurman would be his next opponent.
“Still, I don’t know yet,” Pacquiao replied. “But right now I’m so happy. This is my first time to get a WBA belt.”
It seems unlikely that a Thurman-Pacquiao bout would be the next fight for either boxer, but it could be an appealing option for Thurman in 2019. Pacquiao mentioned Amir Khan, Terence Crawford and Vasiliy Lomachenko as potential opponents during the post-fight press conference as well.
“My next fight,” Pacquiao said, “I want to defend my title, my belt, and give a good show and do my best in the ring.”
Pacquiao won by knockout Sunday for the first time since he stopped Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto in the 12th round of their WBO welterweight title fight in November 2009.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.