Manny Pacquiao, Lucas Matthysse agree to fight July 8 in Malaysia
Manny Pacquiao is going to fight in Malaysia after all.
A verbal agreement has been reached to match the future hall of fame against Lucas Matthysse on July 8 in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, sources with knowledge of the deal told THE RING. Pacquiao contended he was a promotional free agent, but in the end, it’s likely Top Rank will handle distribution of the fight in America on ESPN.
Matthysse is the WBA’s secondary champion, and his title will be on the line. The fight is set to take place on Sunday morning in Malaysia for a primetime U.S. telecast on Saturday night, July 7.
MP Promotions, Pacquiao’s company, will be the lead promoter, as the Filipino senator announced over the weekend. Golden Boy Promotions, which handle Matthysse, would be involved as well.
The 147-pound bout was originally slated for June 24, but after much deliberation over Pacquiao’s contract the fight was moved two weeks.
“[Arum] is invited and there’s no problem. I think after my fight with Matthysse, we will talk regarding the possible Pacquiao-[Vasiliy] Lomachenko fight in the future,” Pacquiao told reporters on Sunday in Manilla. “ … That is a good fight because he is a champion and I’ll be challenged to become a champion again. At the same time, I don’t want the people to say that’s just a tune-up fight.”
Pacquiao, the only eight-division titleholder in boxing history, was offered a fight against Mike Alvarado on the Terence Crawford-Jeff Horn undercard on April 14 in Las Vegas, but the 39-year-old declined.
Pacquiao’s media manager, Aquiles Zonio, told THE RING in February that the fighter was insulted to be offered an undercard slot, but Arum later said the matchup was off due to his issues with the IRS.
Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 knockouts) hasn’t competed since July when he lost his title to Jeff Horn via decision in Australia. Even though it was controversial, with most observervers believing Pacquiao deserved the nod, he was a shell of his former self.
Matthysse, too, appears to be well past his best days. He grabbed the title from Thai fighter Tewa Kiram in January, but the 35-year-old Argentine was sluggish before the eighth-round stoppage.
“I like [Matthysse’s] aggressive fighting style,” Pacquiao, THE RING’s No. 6 welterweight, said earlier this month. “That’s what I want, to entertain the boxing fans. Besides, Matthysse is not a dirty fighter and I highly respect him for that.”
Who will train Pacquiao for the fight is another matter. His longtime trainer, Freddie Roach, has been mum when asked if he’ll be in Pacquiao’s corner.
Whoever trains Pacquiao, it will be his first fight in Asia since he outpointed Chris Algieri in Macau in 2014.
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger