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Breakdown: Manny Pacquiao vs. Lucas Matthysse fight preview and prediction

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This Saturday night, boxing presents a kind of weird match-up as Senator and future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2; 38 KOs) faces WBA Welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse (39-4(1); 36 KOs) for the 147 pound world title. Ring Magazine has Pacquiao at #6 in the division and Matthysse at #8. The fight takes place this Saturday, July 15 in Kuala Lumpur and airs live on the new ESPN+ platform with a fight time of 9:00 p.m. ET.

How do these two stack up?

Pacquiao: 39 years old | 5’6” | 67” reach | southpaw stance
Matthysse: 35 years old | 5’6” | 69” reach | orthodox stance

What have these two done recently?

Pacquiao: L – Jeff Horn (UD) | W – Jessie Vargas (UD) | W – Timothy Bradley (UD)
Matthysse: W – Tewa Kiram (KO) | W – Emmanuel Taylor (TKO) | L – Viktor Postol (KO)

How did these two get here?

A few years ago, Manny Pacquiao was one of the sport’s top 2 superstars and top 2 pound for pound fighters. But ever since his highly controversial 2012 loss to Timothy Bradley, things have been on a downward slip. He went undefeated for 7 years, but is now on a 5-4 run. He’s been more focused on his political career as of late – this is just his 4th fight since the 2015 mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather. This is Pac’s first fight since last July when he lost a terrible decision to Jeff Horn, and will be the first time since 2001 he has fought without the tutelage of his longtime trainer Freddie Roach.

Lucas Matthysse first rose to significant prominence as a heavy-handed Argentine back in 2013. He’s been in some great fights, with brutal wars and brutal KO endings, highlighted by a tremendous 2015 battle with Ruslan Provodnikov – the only fight Matthysse has won by decision in a decade. At the same time he’s had these successes, he’s yet to really show that he can be THE man. He claimed the vacant WBA title in his last fight. Even if Pacquiao is faded, this would be a career moment for Matthysse.

What can fans expect?

Book this fight in, say, 2014 and you’ve got something really interesting on your hands. The heavy-handed but slightly flawed relative up-and-comer (kind of) vs. the fading legend. In 2018 though? Now Pacquiao is potentially into pretty seriously faded territory. He didn’t look great against Horn, he has been largely inactive, and he’s coming in here without Roach and without Top Rank. None of this adds up to being a fighter who cares much about his boxing career. At the same time, Matthysse is just two fights removed from a pretty surprising KO loss, and though he’s a champion, he’s not exactly setting the world on fire himself anymore. What does that all mean? Well it means this one is pretty hard to call. Matthysse could starch Pacquiao – he’s laid out men before, Pacquiao has been laid out before. But he could also be really tentative and see it go to a dull decision that I could see going either way. One option would be at least entertaining in a highlight way, the other – not so much. I’m sorry to say it, but I’m going with option B.
Prediction: Lucas Matthysse, Dec

Who should watch?

If you have ESPN+ and you’re a diehard Pacquiao or Matthysse fan (or you really want to believe one or both of them still has it), enjoy!

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