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Pacquiao Yearender: Twenty-three years? That's crazy!


PhilBoxing.com




Thus, was how Manny Pacquiao?s strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune reacted when informed that the Filipino fighting senator was celebrating his 23rd year as a prizefighter fighting then Argentine World Boxing Association welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse on July 14 in the US in Kuala Lumpur.

?Well, that makes us members of the training team to push harder to make Manny in tip-top fighting shape for him to win this fight,? Fortune said smiling. ?If we want to celebrate, we might as well do it on a winning note.?

?It?s hard to commemorate a great occasion crying,? he said jestingly. ?We don?t intend to give him a present like that. That?s for sure because we?ll be preparing Manny not to lose.?

Fortune made true to his words, He, newly-designated chief trainer Buboy Fernandez, Nonoy Neri and Roger ?Haplas? Fernandez implemented a very rigid training program, which Pacquiao followed to the letter that on that day at the Axiata Arena, the Filipino boxing icon celebrated his more than two decades of fighting with a bang.

The boxer-turned lawmaker technically knocked out Matthysse in seven rounds for his third coming as champion of the 147-pound division he won for the first time in 2009 via a 12th round stoppage of Miguel Cotto but only to lose it twice.


Manny Pacquiao stops Miguel Cotto in 2009.

What made this title victory sweeter was it came nine years after scoring his last victory KO win a the expense of Cotto himself and without his chief trainer of 16 years, Freddie Roach, who Pacquiao dispatched days before training got started, in his corner.

It marked the first time in their 34-fight partnership that Roach wasn?t in Pacquiao?s corner.

The win came, too, following devastating losses he suffered the past seven years to arch-rivals Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012, Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015, and only last year by Australian former school teacher Jeff Horn in 2017 which cast doubts on his capability to make it to big time again at age 39.

The gritty, speedy Filipino eight-division champion had proven his detractors wrong was with the way he made the contest looked like easy. He 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 let-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 crowning as the new WBA 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. I feel I?m only 27 years old.?

It was, too, Pacqcuiao?s 60th win in 69 fights, of a 23-year professional career, 39 of them by stoppage.

The loss was Matthysse?s fifth and last in a 14-year career.

Pacquao took control right at the opening bell connecting with 1-2 and 1-2-3 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 already 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 head butt 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.

At the time of the stoppage, all three judges had the bout 59?53 in favor of Pacquiao. According to Compubox, Pacquiao landed 95 of 344 punches thrown or 28%, this included a 44% connect rate on his power punches. Matthysse landed 57 of his 246 thrown. On August 2, Matthysse announced his retirement from professional boxing at the age of 35.

Pacquiao first fought as a welterweight from lightweight on December 6, 2008 when he devastated heavily-fovored four-division champion Oscar DeLa Hoya.

The following year he wrested the WBO 147-pound plum from Cotto via technical knockout in a fight billed as "Firepower." It was after this fight that the clamor for the Pacquiao-Mayweather encounter heated up as negotiations lasted for five years before it was realized.

In November 2010, Pacquiao mangled Antonio Margarito for the WBC light-middleweight title to win a world welterweight diadem to Timothy Bradley via a controversial split decision. He recaptured the crown by unanimous decision over Bradley in the second of their trilogy only to lose it again to Mayweather in their record-breaking matchup in May 2015.

The fighting senator won the belt again at the expense of Jessie Vargas and two years later lost it anew to Australian Jeff Horn in yet another questionable bout in 2017.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eddie Alinea.


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