KUALA LUMPUR – “I’m back!
With these words, Filipino boxing icon served notice to the whole world of his third coming after devastating losses he suffered the past seven years.
Defeats dealt him by arch-rivals Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012 and Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015, and only last year by Australian former school teacher Jeff Horn cast doubts on his capability to make it to big-time again at age 39.
But the gritty, speedy Filipino eight-division champion proved his detractors wrong with what looked like an easy seventh-round technical knockout victory, his first win via stoppage in nine years, at the Axiata Arena here Sunday
The fighting Philippine Senator dropped the supposedly hard-punching Argentine belt-owner thrice – one in the third round with a vicious left-right combination, another in the fifth and last in the seventh when the Pacman et-loose with a left uppercut that sent Matthysse kneeling.
Referee Kenny Bayless looked at the deposed champion at his eyes before motioning the fight was over without even counting as Pacquiao jumped and spread-eagled around the ring in celebration of his crowing as the new World Boxing Association welterweight champion.
“I’m back!” Pacquiao exclaimed during the post-fight press conference in what belied conjectures his pro-career is nearing its end.
“I’m not done yet. I’m still here,” he told media men. “I feel I’m only 27 years old.”
That TKO victory was Pacquiao’s first since stopping Miguel, Cotto in 12 rounds in 2012. It was, too, his 60th win 69 flights of a 23-year professional career, 39 of them by stoppage.
The loss was Matthysse’s fifth in a 14-year career.
Matthysse, whose camp had announced he’s going to retire Pacquiao, who, he added is already due for retirement, was never able to land any solid punch.
He fights between two of fleet-footed fighters in the world today was unexpectedly easy that without those knockdowns would have been dull.
The MANILA TIMES, in fact, saw Pacquiao shutting out the title-defender in it 70-42 scorecard when the fight was stopped.
Pacquiao took control right at the opening bell connecting with 1-2 and1-2-3 unanswered combinations, which he continued in the next round.
The Filipino legend served notice of what to come in the third where he caught the Argentine with a left cross and a right straight that fell Matthysse to the seat of his pants
Sensing he had his rival’s number, Pacquiao continued his pressing attacks in the succeeding period ending the fourth with a solid right. Matthysse was warned of a headbutt earlier in the round.
Another warning, this time of low blow completely disarmed the champion who fell victim to that left uppercut in the seventh that ended his unsuccessful first defense of the WBA 147-pound diadem he won just last January.
By EDDIE G. ALINEA