Thrilla in Malaysia fast shaping up
Not monumental, burning-bronze, possessed as Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier were in Manila in 1975, but there’s every reason to believe the super warriors in the Fight of Champions WBA world welterweight championship in Kuala Lumpur on July 15 can cause the main event to sizzle, soar and explode into a classic Thrilla in Malaysia.
Both Lucas Matthysse, the WBA welterweight champion, and challenger Manny Pacquiao are solidly committed to give their hardest best for a defining victory that will ultimately decide their respective careers.
There’s the promise of blazing tactical combat, it could also be bloody and very brutal, with the defending champion repeatedly crying he would be ready and willing to die to keep his three-month-old crown.
Charge it to hunger on Matthysse’s part. He owns only one world title, compared to Pacquiao, who has reigned supreme in a total of eight world boxing classes.
It could also pale out as a clash between a plebe intruder against an all-time ring monarch.
But we must believe boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya who said: Matthysse vs Pacquiao has all the makings of a Fight of the Year sure bet.
De La Hoya, who failed to grace the event’s launch-off press conference in Manila last month, has vowed to be at ringside in Kuala Lumpur on July 15.
Pacquiao, out of action for almost a whole year, will try very hard, but will his best be enough? And how much has Manny really got left?
He now trains under boyhood buddy Buboy Fernandez, who has taken over Hall-of-Fame coach Freddie Roach.
Pacquiao has not even bothered to talk about a possible knockout.
At the same time, he has confided in his first day back in the gym that he would be fully focused on conditioning.
He would be needing all the stamina he could gain and store in challenging a younger opponent.
Pacquiao swore the Matthysse fight would be both dangerous and difficult.
Pacquiao, 39, has personally chosen this killer test against a magnificent 35-year-old hammer man, who has knocked out 36 of the 39 opponents he has beaten.
There’s nothing sure, there’s no turning back.
There are signs the Fight of Champions could finish like the Thrilla in Manila in October 1975 which, as the badly beaten winner Muhammad Al would swear, “FELT LIKE DEATH.”
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