Manny Pacquiao is set to continue his boxing career with a fight against Lucas Matthysse in a fight that feels more like it is about redemption than anything else. Pacquiao’s need for redemption comes after his last fight, a loss to Australian Jeff Horn that was memorable for all the wrong reasons. And if the fight isn’t about redemption, it is hard to understand what else it could be about.
For a fighter like Pacquiao, who has spent so much of his career being dominant, losing some of your natural ability has to be difficult. Most fighters see that as a sign to move on. But for Pacquiao, continuing to get into the ring in spite of some of that deterioration has become a common occurrence. With it having been nine years since Pacquiao has knocked out another fighter, he has had to rely on other ways to get the job done.
Of course, there have been the nights where he hasn’t got the job done either, like the Horn fight. And against a more potent fighter like Matthysse, Pacquiao may be in for another difficult night. In fact, one of the all-time greats in the sport isn’t sure that Pacquiao is going to win the fight. Oscar De La Hoya sees the fight as one that can go either way, predicting that Pacquiao will either win on points or will get knocked out.
But one of the real questions heading into this fight isn’t who will win, which seems to be up in the air. Instead, it is why Pacquiao feels the need to continue to fight past his prime. He’s certainly not a bad fighter yet, so his career hasn’t reached the point of becoming a sideshow yet. But boxing is a sport that will gladly take in a sideshow, as evidenced by the Logan Paul vs. KSI match odds at Oddschecker. While Pacquiao will hopefully never sink far enough to fight a YouTube celebrity, you can’t help but think that the sport needs him far more than he should need it at this point.
For this fight, though, Pacquiao should have one distinct advantage and source of motivation. That would be the crowd in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. With this fight taking place in Asia, Pacquiao is sure to have a crowd full of both people from the Philippines as well as fans from around the region to support him. Not only will this be a positive for Pacquiao, but could be something he needs to power through the later rounds, which he struggled with in the Horn fight.
Speaking of the Horn fight, the crowd for that fight was also full of local Pacquiao supporters who made the trip from the Philippines. That fight took place all the way in Australia, so seeing a good turnout for Pacquiao in Malaysia should be no problem. As long as the questionable judging stays behind in Australia this time, it should be a very interesting fight.
What will make this fight interesting is the fact that Lucas Matthysse should present an even tougher challenge than Jeff Horn did. While Horn won the fight, he did so on the back of a very questionable decision, which sent the boxing community into an uproar. Teddy Atlas was especially memorable in the aftermath of that fight, citing Pacquiao’s huge advantage in punches landed when criticising those who made the decision.
This time around, Pacquiao’s coach has acknowledged that Matthysse is a better fighter than Horn, which is why there does not appear to be a clear favourite in the match. The one thing that is clear, though, is that Pacquiao needs to be more aggressive early in this fight. His lack of aggression early on against Horn allowed the Australian to rack up some early rounds, nullifying the impact of the charge that Pacquiao put together in the second half of the bout.
Pacquiao vs. Matthysse should be very telling as far as where Manny Pacquiao can go from here. A poor showing very well could be his final showing as a boxer to be taken seriously, so there is certainly a lot on the line. But no matter what happens in the fight, it will be another chapter in one of the best careers in recent boxing history.