MANNY Pacquiao’s fight with Lucas Matthysse on July 15 is a must-see event, for many reasons. First, it’s about geography. It’s not that often that Manny fights in Asia. The last time, he fought Jeff Horn in Brisbane. I don’t know if he will ever fight on home soil again.

If he wins and gets reinserted back into the top contender loop, he will most likely fight in the US again. Kuala Lumpur is only about a 4-hour plane ride from here. So if you haven’t seen Manny fight in person, this is your best chance to go cross that out of your bucket list.

Second, if he loses, there is the possibility that this could be his last fight. A loss would mean two consecutive setbacks, never mind that the Horn loss was a farce. This could impact his decision on whether or not to fight again. If he fights again next year, he will be 40 years old then, and considering his other priorities as a senator of the Republic of the Philippines, there is that distinct possibility of retirement.

That too, if he loses and loses badly. Which is a very real possibility.

MATTHYSSE. He will be the slower but bigger fighter in the ring that night. Nothing new actually for Manny who is used to and is in fact quite adept at defeating bigger opponents.

Matthysse is another iteration of those flawed power-punchers not unlike the late Edwin Valero. Porous defense, feral fighting style, concussive power in both hands. He will be an easy target for Manny’s accurate left straights.

But Manny has to be extra-careful lest he walk into a sleep- inducing right hand of the kind that Juan Manuel Marquez dispensed.

This, Matthysse is quite capable of landing. Already, he has been interviewed and quoted as saying that timing will be the key, and indeed it is. Timing is your best weapon against a speedy fighter like Manny. You can’t outland him. But you can time him coming in. Remember this is a guy who 36 knockouts in 39 fights.

Also, if you take into account what we have learned from that Jeff Horn loss, we now know that Manny isn’t as fast and as busy anymore. He gets tired now. His combinations are fewer and far between. Sure he can still dish it out, but gone are the staccato-like thumpings he used to dish out almost at will, every single round.

Lastly, although Horn was clearly outfought by Manny, he did succeed in bullying him around the ring, pushing him, roughing him up, making the fight dirty and ugly at times. This, Lucas can do also and probably better than Horn considering his natural strength advantage.

I still think Manny will win though, but this could be brutal.

VERBATIM. “ It think it’s partly genetic call it the touch of death. He’s got that left hand, it’s the touch of death. That touch of death comes at a cost.”

– Firas Zahabi, coach of Georges St. Pierre on why Conor McGregor gasses out during fights (www.givemesport.com)

LAST ROUND. It’s on John Unchuan who recently celebrated his birthday. Cheers!

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