Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) vs. Lucas Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs)
When: Saturday, July 14, 2018
Where: Axiata Arena, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Weight Class: WBA World Welterweight Title
by Scott of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: Manny Pacquiao (-185), Lucas Matthysse (+160)
On July 15, all-time great Manny Pacquiao returns to the ring to take on noted puncher Lucas Matthysse for the WBA 147-pound belt in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This will be Pacquiao’s first fight in a year, since he lost a controversial decision to unbeaten Jeff Horn. Matthysse, meanwhile, has gathered some steam once again in his career and is looking to score what still counts as a significant win. Can the aging future first-ballot Hall of Famer score another big win or is he pushing the envelope a little too much?
The decision Pacquiao lost to Horn in July of 2017 was indeed controversial. It seemed Pacquiao had done enough to win what was a competitive fight. The scores of the judges notwithstanding, it certainly looked like the wheels had started to come off for the Filipino great. It’s important to remember that he isn’t merely 39, but is a fighter who has risen up a ton of weight classes, taken on the best fighters, and has a championship pedigree that stretches back to 1998. That is a ton of mileage. Still athletically a very-gifted fighter, the wear is incalculable. And against Horn, his tires appeared to be threadbare or at least very close to it.
It’s at times like this in a fighter’s career when it makes sense to exercise great caution placing a bet. Pac is only a slight favorite in this fight, an appealing value from the standpoint of taking a vastly more talented and accomplished fighter at a decent price. But is he really the same guy? The answer is no. He can still dazzle with quickness and slashing punches. It’s the stuff coming in the other direction that elicits concern. That’s usually the major issue with fighters who have accrued this much mileage. The skin tears more easily. A once-reliable chin seems readily more-exploitable, and if a war breaks out, a fighter like Pacquiao is likely to show the limitations caused by the erosion of a taxing career that stretches back over 23 years.
The real question is what can Lucas Matthysse do about it? No youngster at 35, Matthysse is in the midst of a comeback after losing badly to Viktor Postol in 2015. He has won two straight fights and has people talking about him again. He stopped capable Emanuel Taylor, before knocking out unbeaten Tewa Kiram in January at the Forum in Inglewood. He has proven he is still useful at this point in his career, though even a shot Pacman represents a level of menace he hasn’t faced in quite some time.
At one point in time, Matthysse was ballyhooed as the top 140-pounder in the world. He entered the ring against fellow titleholder Danny Garcia as the favorite, before losing badly by decision. He went on to win in fights against Ruslan Provodnikov and John Molina in bouts where he experienced some difficulty. It led to a bout with Postol, where he was soundly beaten before running up the white flag. He took off a few years and returned with the two aforementioned wins. But Taylor was maybe on his way out, while Kiram hadn’t beaten anyone of note on his glossy record. It’s not easy to determine if Matthysse is back to being close to where he was before or if he’s been made to look better than he is.
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At his best, Matthysse was a ruthless KO puncher, but he never quite scored that huge win to crystallize his greatness. It would be hard to dispute that his best fighting is probably behind him at this point. Even when beating Kiram in January, there was a certain raggedness in his approach that a still-sharp Pacquiao could exploit. I’m not sure Mattthysse has the same tools Horn had when he gave Pacquiao so many problems with his youth, energy, size, and overall soundness. In this fight, Manny is fighting a guy who is more in his wheelhouse. Matthysse’s power certainly looms large in this fight. And Pacquiao doesn’t take it as well as he once did. But Matthysse also faces major deficits in speed, boxing ability, and especially defense.
One can only be so secure of a Pacquiao win at this point when he’s taking on world-class fighters. However, I see this as a fairly-wise opponent choice for the boxing champion/politician. History shows that when legendary greats push the envelope too far in this business, the sport has a way of being very harsh. Pacquiao, pushing 40, is boxing without a clear path ahead of him. Is he fighting for money? Does he still have a desire to be the best? Is he fighting to atone for his last fight, even if most felt he won it? This is a sport that doesn’t smile upon aging legends, especially when they are without a clear plan-of-attack. It’s one of those things where you have to either be all-in or not at all. Pacquiao’s late-career presence in the sport is sort of wishy-washy. And that typically doesn’t work out well.
Again, Matthysse’s power can render an analysis moot. No one could really claim to be that surprised if it played a deciding factor in this fight against a fighter who just might be due to hit a wall in a big way. The angle for betting on Matthysse is an understandable one, as he is still a physical force and Pacquiao looked very depreciated a year ago. Despite that, I feel Pacquiao’s body-of-work over the last few years reflects a lot better than Matthysse’s. Stylistically, a lot of edges exist for Pacquiao and I see him exploiting those on July 15 en route to a win. I’m taking Manny Pacquiao.
My Prediction to Win the Fight:
I’m betting on Manny Pacquiao at -185 odds. There are reasons for Pacquiao not being a bigger favorite, as he is a rather spent force at this point. Matthysse, however, is not far behind and with far-less tools at his disposal, he has less routes to victory. Find the best props for the fight at 5Dimes.