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TO THE DEATH

‘I will die (defending my title) if I have to,’ says Matthysse

/ 05:40 AM April 19, 2018

Philippine senator and boxing hero Manny Pacquiao, left, and Argentine WBA welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse pose for photographers during a press conference in Manila, Philippines on Wednesday, April 18, 2018. The two are scheduled to fight on July 15, in a World Boxing Association welterweight title fight in Malaysia. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

He still holds Manny Pacquiao in high esteem, but Lucas Matthysse thinks the Filipino ring icon is no longer the fearsome warrior that sowed terror in the ring the past decade.

And as such, the Argentine feels confident that he will emerge victorious when they tangle for his World Boxing Association welterweight crown on July 15 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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Fact is, Matthysse intends to send Pacquiao into retirement by knocking out the 39-year-old eight-division world champion.

“Honestly, he’s still very good, but since the knockout of (Juan Manuel) Marquez,” I think he’s not the same fighter anymore,” said Matthysse during Wednesday’s press conference launching “Champion vs Champion” at City of Dreams Manila.

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Clad in a Barong Tagalog, the 35-year-old Matthysse, regarded as a knockout artist, refused to be cowed by Pacquiao’s sterling credentials as multiple champion, three-time Fighter of the Year, and Fighter of the Decade.

“Sure, Manny has won so many titles… I (have) only won one title. I am not going to give it up. I will die for it if I have to,” said Matthysse, who has stopped 36 of his 39 victims against only four losses. “I will defend this title to the death.”

Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) refuted Matthysse’s observation, saying that he has a lot more to give in the ring.

“That is what I am trying to prove this coming July 15, that Manny Pacquiao is not yet done in boxing,” said Pacquiao, who hasn’t fought since losing his World Boxing Organization welterweight title to Australian Jeff Horn in Brisbane last year.

Though he hasn’t knocked out an opponent since 2009, when he stopped Miguel Cotto in the 12th round, Pacquiao said if he sees a chance to finish Matthysse, he’ll do so to prove that he’s still capable of taking on the current toasts of boxing like Ukrainian WBO super featherweight titlist Vasyl Lomachenko.

Pacquiao and Matthysse will leave for Kuala Lumpur Friday night, where they will hold another press conference for the fight card jointly undertaken by Pacquiao’s MP Promotions and Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions.

Asked about the status of his longtime coach Freddie Roach, Pacquiao said he’s leaving the door open for the Hall of Famer.

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For the Matthysse fight, however, it looks like Buboy Fernandez has the inside track to be the main corner man. —ROY LUARCA

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TAGS: Boxing, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, Lucas Matthysse, Manny Pacquiao, World Boxing Association
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