By Marc Livitz: In a turning back of the proverbial clocks, Manny Pacquiao scored his first knockout victory in nine years with a stoppage win over Lucas Matthysse in a lunchtime contest for the WBA World Welterweight championship at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Not since stopping Miguel Cotto in late 2009 has the Filipino superstar ended a contest inside of twelve rounds. Throughout much of the bout and en route to the sixtieth win of his storied career, Pacquiao took full advantage of Matthysse’s willingness to stand directly in front of him and may have made us forget that he’ll turn forty in December.
Southpaw Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KO’s) used his jab early and tried to lure Matthysse (39-5, 36 KO’s) inward, who was much on the defensive without being in any sort of peril. Manny landed a few combinations up high and he managed to elude the right hooks of the Argentine champion as the opening round came to an end. Blocked punch or not, the crowd in Axiata cheered with pride each time the eight-division champion extended his gloves. He caught Lucas with a quick right hook over the titleholder’s left arm.
“La Maquina” appeared to be waiting to time Manny’s forward movement and catch him flush with his power hand, yet through two rounds he was unsuccessful. The bout’s first knockdown came just moments into the third, thanks to a guard-splitting right uppercut placed nicely by the “PacMan”. Lucas rose to his feet without any signs of damage. This seemed to light his fire, at least for a brief instant. Midway through the period, Matthysse had regained his composure. Pacquiao continued to attack as Lucas continued to be content to wait.
Perhaps the clearest weakness shown by Matthysse was his tendency to keep his head not only stationary, but at times out ahead of his lead foot as well. Through four rounds, Manny looked to have them all in his favor. Lucas was able to connect with a hard right, however. Pacquiao showed a few flashes of the past in the initial seconds of the fifth as his quick fire combinations backed up his Argentine adversary. The bout’s first head clash occurred just outside the last minute of the period. Matthysse’s left sailed over Pacquiao’s right for a well placed shot, yet moments later, he was on the canvas once again. A few jabs were followed by a looping right to the side of the head, which somehow forced him to take a voluntary knee just before the bell sounded.
Pacquiao absorbed a low blow about twenty seconds into the sixth. He took a few moments to recuperate, then he went back to work. His left hand was visibly frustrating the WBA champion as he continued to connect, almost at will. At times, Matthysse would tag him as he charged in, but without much effect.
Pacquiao’s lateral movement made him the right kind of moving target as round seven seemed to coast by. With less than twenty seconds to spare, the last knockdown came courtesy of a left uppercut. The punch put Matthysse on a knee and a discerning eye wasn’t needed to see he had no interest in continuing. He spit out his mouthpiece, after which referee Kenny Bayless waved the afternoon to a close at the 2:43 mark to award the TKO victory to Manny Pacquiao.
“We made plans for Matthysse and his power,” the new WBA champion said afterward. “I’m surprised because he’s a tough opponent. It’s a long time ago since I knocked out an opponent. We did a good job in training. We pushed hard but we controlled ourselves.”
In regards to his next potential matchup, he replied, “That’s another discussion. Right now, I’m happy to go back to the Philippines and celebrate this victory. We’re planning to fight again this year, but right now my focus is to go back to my country and relax.”
“He’s a great fighter. He’s Manny Pacquiao,” the defeated Matthysse said. “It was my time to lose but I lost to a great fighter, a legend. I’ll take a break and go back home with my family. This is boxing. You win some and you lose some.”
Additional Results from Kuala Lumpur
Jhack Tepora TKO Edivaldo Ortega - Interim WBA World Featherweight Title
Carlos Canizales TKO 12 Bin Lu - WBA World Light Flyweight Title
Moruti Mthalane UD 12 Muhammad Waseem - Vacant IBF World Flyweight Title