Aftermath: Pacquiao vs Matthysse
Manny Pacquiao secured his first KO since 2009 when he stopped Lucas Matthysse on Saturday night in Kuala Lumpur. Boxing Monthly's Callum Rudge, Lee Gormley, Paul Zanon and Colin Harris are here with their take on the fight, where Pacquiao goes next and the Filippino's ATG status...
BM: Your assessment of Pacquiao's performance vs Matthysse?
CR: Pacquiao started extremely fast and seemed to suck all of the ambition out of Matthysse in the opening round. I thought Pacquiao slowed a bit after that but showed he still has the power to hurt people at this time of his career. Matthysse was very poor but this wasn’t a surprise as his performance wasn’t much better against Tewa Kiram, despite winning by knockout. After a year out, Pacquiao should be pleased with his performance and this win adds an extra layer of intrigue to one of the sport's glamour divisions.
LG: Pacquiao's victory over Matthysse was something of a throwback performance. He's obviously diminished in terms of speed and reflexes but he showed glimpses of his former self and finally rediscovered the power that made him so revered previously. His shots were snappy and he hit 'the Machine' with plenty of impressive counters. You can never write Pacquiao off but this was likely a final showcase against an opponent that was tailor-made for him and, in truth, on a worse slide than himself. Having said that, many saw it as a dangerous match-up beforehand (including myself).
PZ: I was a big fan of both fighters... and I use the past tense deliberately. Matthysse didn't seem to turn up for this fight and was getting hurt and dropped with shots he would have walked through a few years back. PacMan came to fight, but despite the commentators saying that he still had incredibly fast hands and great footwork, I disagreed. Pac has always been a 'punches in bunches' kind of guy and always bouncing around. Don't get me wrong, the ability of a man nearing his 40th birthday was incredible, but a masterclass it wasn't. He threw the jab, then a one-two. Or jab, uppercut. Jab hook. A younger, fresher fighter will work out his combos fairly quickly. I'd hate to see him finish his career on the canvas but it's looking likely.
CH: I think Pacquiao should be very pleased with his performance, and his first stoppage in such a long time - but let's not get too carried away. Matthysse had a get-out-of-jail-free moment in his previous fight, which saw him lift a vacant second-tier WBA title that shouldn't have even been up for grabs (bloody WBA!). Hopefully Thurman gets stripped due to inactivity, but having Pac as a regular champion is a bit insulting. However, back to the fight itself: Pac looked trim, strong, and did what he had to do. I'd like to think there's half-a-dozen more fights in him yet, but expect him to only have one or two.
BM: Are there any other boxers in the welterweight top ten you would fancy Pacman to beat before he finally retires?
CR: Boxing Monthly’s current welter top three is Errol Spence, Terence Crawford and Keith Thurman and I think it’s fair to say that Pacquiao would be a heavy underdog against all of them. However there are some very winnable fights out there against the likes of Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter, and Jeff Horn - Pacquiao would still be competitive against all these names. The wildcard in the list is Kerman Lejarraga, whose blowout win over in-form Bradley Skeete makes him a man to fear in the division.
LG: Top Rank look likely to feed Pacquiao to Vasyl Lomachenko at a catchweight or even Terence Crawford at 147lbs, so the end of 'Pacman' could be on the horizon. He has no place in the ring with big punchers like 'Bud' or Spence Jr at this stage of his career, but he's still dangerous enough to cause problems for others. Thurman has been out for some time and that's a pairing which would still be very intriguing. Amir Khan has been after the fight for a long time and PacMan is still a huge threat to him if they were to meet this year. Let's enjoy Pacquiao while he's still around!
PZ: In terms of who he could beat in the top 10... Perhaps Lamont Peterson.
CH: Crawford and Spence would both be nice unification bouts, but I doubt Pacquiao would win either and it would be quite sad to see him bombarded out of a fight. Having said that, he's still a genuine top ten fighter and would beat the likes of Porter, Garcia and Horn (rematch). I think a Horn rematch is the most likely next fight, and I think Horn (who was made to look good last time) would lose a points decision.
BM: With regards 'all-time great' status, how highly do you rank Pacquiao?
CR: I think he’s absolutely an all-time great and in the discussion concerning the best of his generation. His record is littered with Hall of Famers. While his star grew in the last decade, I think during that period he was matched in a way to suit his strengths, whether that be against Miguel Cotto at a catchweight or against Shane Mosley post-Mayweather or the skeleton of Oscar De La Hoya. While Pacquiao is no doubt a Hall of Famer, he falls below the true elite level of all time greats like Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson or Henry Armstrong.
LG: Pacquiao's achievements are incredible. He turned professional at light flyweight in January 1995 and is still going strong. His run through the divisions when he was in his prime was remarkable, beating so many legends of the sport and he was never afraid to get in there with the much bigger guys. He's a genuine all-time great and you could make a big case for him being within the top 30 of boxing history. Yes, he lost to Floyd Mayweather but the nature of his biggest victories and willingness to take on all comers means he has a case for being ranked higher than his more cautious 2015 conquerer. It's an interesting discussion.
PZ: If you take a look at Pacquiao's CV, you can't argue with his achievements and how he did it. He started as a teenager, worked through eight divisions as a world champion, and took on the best of the best. It will be a long time before another Manny comes along... but I'd like to see him retire now, instead of tarnish an incredible CV.
CH: He's an all-time great who, along with Mayweather, is one of the two standout fighters of his generation. While Mayweather has the squeaky-clean record, Pac is more like the 'old timers' who didn't mind if they lost and got on with it anyway and was never too precious about his record when taking on challenges. He is absolutely in the top 20 all time, but I guess people will argue whether he gets into the top ten or not... for me, he probably does - just!