Manny Pacquiao claims his first knockout win in nine years as he stuns welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse in Malaysia
The 39-year-old follows in the footsteps of Muhammad Ali in claiming a world title in Malaysia
Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao scored a stunning knockout win against Argentinian WBA welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse in Malaysia on Sunday morning in a win that announced the 39-year-old isn’t finished yet.
A thoroughly dominant victory saw the WBA welterweight strap return to Pacquiao and scotched talk of an imminent retirement for the icon.
Referee Kenny Bayless stepped in to bring a conclusion to the exhibition in the seventh round after Pacquiao had dropped the big-hitting 35-year-old for a third time.
It was the first time in 17 years that Pacquiao had fought without hall of fame American trainer Freddie Roach in his corner, but he looked unfazed throughout.
Following his shock loss to Australian journeyman Jeff Horn last time out, Pacquiao decided to change his corner team, and his new line-up paid immediate dividends.
The Filipino dropped the champion three times in the fight, the first coming from a beautifully timed left hook in round three as the veteran dominated.
More clubbing blows sent Matthysse to the canvas again in the fourth round after a hook to the temple.
The southpaw dropped his opponent for the final time with a devilish left uppercut and the victory improved the eight-division world champion’s record to 60-7-2.
As referee Bayless gave Matthysse the count, the champion spat out his mouthguard prompting the stoppage.
Pacquiao had hinted strongly that the Kuala Lumpur duel could be his last if he failed to fire as he did last time out against Horn. But a focused performance from the part-time politician looks set to extend his career in the ring, with potential big-money bouts against lightweight king Vasyl Lomachenko and three-weight world champion Terence Crawford dominating the speculation.
However, Pacquiao refused to be moved after the fight when asked about a potential next opponent.
“Right now I’m happy to go back to my country to celebrate the victory,” he said.
A noisy crowd of 15,000 at the Axiata Arena were in good voice for the regional hero despite the early morning start, as the US TV networks broadcasted the bout.
“We dictated the pace. Matthysse is a very tough opponent so I was surprised,” Pacquiao said.
“Thank God for this victory. Thanks to all the Filipino people. We did a good job in training and controlled ourselves,” he added.
Pacquiao thanked controversial Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte, who was in attendance at the fight, several times during his post-fight address.
Beaten champion Matthysse paid tribute to the new champ.
“He’s a great fighter and a great champion,” Matthysse said. “Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose – today was my turn to lose, but I lost against a great champion and a legend.”