Philippines, 24 Mar 2019
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Malaysia raves over Manny


PhilBoxing.com




KUALA LUMPUR. Newly-crowned WBA welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao captivated the Malaysian press and fans with his seventh round stoppage of Lucas Matthysse to wrest the 147-pound crown as a look-alike from Sabah attempted to share the spotlight by making himself accessible to media.

It was Pacquiao-mania in K. L. as even Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahatir Bin Mohamad witnessed the fight in the VIP section of the Axiata Arena with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. In the days leading to Malaysia’s biggest boxing spectacle since Muhammad Ali beat Joe Bugner at the Merdeka Stadium in 1975, the anticipation was fever-pitch. Matthysse flew in from his camp in Indio, California and acclimatized for two weeks while Pacquiao arrived on a chartered Philippine Airlines flight six days before the fight.

The fighters were billeted at Le Meridien Hotel whose lobby was transformed into a virtual marketplace with an overflow of fans during the week of the event. The city was decked out with banners and posters announcing the affair in high-density places.

After the fight, 44-year-old rubber farmer Aloysius Taidin cut a conspicuous figure in the exits, drawing curious attention from fans and media for his uncanny resemblance to Pacquiao. He was accompanied by three Malaysians who appeared to be his handlers. “All I want is to meet Pacquiao,” said Taidin. “I became a fan in 2009 and I’ve been watching his fights on TV. I’m not a boxer. I’m just a farmer. But I flew 2 1/2 hours from Sabah to watch him fight.”

Taidin, the Malaysian version of the Philippines' Manny Paksiw, said he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to witness a Pacquiao fight live even if it meant taking a long flight at his expense. Sabah is over 1,600 kilometers from the Malaysian capital.

Another point of interest for Malaysian fans was the participation of two unbeaten locals in the 11-fight card assembled by MP Promotions. Featherweight Aiman Abu Bakar scored a unanimous four-round decision over Indonesia’s Abdi while welterweight Theena Thayalan was held to a split four-round draw by India’s Siddharth Varma. The Malaysian press got a few facts wrong in reporting on both bouts. The Malay Mail said Aiman won by a split decision. The (Malaysian) Star said Aiman scored a technical knockout and Thayalan went six rounds with Varma. Aiman, 26, raised his record to 8-0 with his first seven wins coming in the Philippines. Theena, 20, dislocated his shoulder in the first round and was lucky to salvage a draw.

The man of the moment was clearly Pacquiao. The Star headlined its story “Manny (has) fights left in him” with the subheading “Pacquiao proves he still has that ‘Eye of the Tiger.’” The Star added that Pacquiao “put up an impressive show of power.” The Malay Mail said “Pacquiao (is) far from packing it in.”

Matthysse, 35, earned the biggest paycheck of his career, reportedly $2.5 Million. He was paid only $210,000 for halting Thailand’s Theerachai Kratingdaeng-Gym to claim the WBA title in Los Angeles last January. His previous biggest purse was $1 Million for facing Danny Garcia to whom he lost on points in Las Vegas in September 2013. Matthysse received $800,000 for stopping Lamont Peterson in the third round in May 2013.

Photo: Aloysius Taidin.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.


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