KUALA LUMPUR: For the first time since their fight was announced last April, World Boxing Association welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse and his challenger Manny Pacquiao appeared in one room Tuesday and separately pronounced their preparedness for their titular encounter five days from now in this soccer-crazy Malaysian capital city.
The six-month-old belt owner from Argentina and his Filipino title contender face each other off this coming Sunday are the Axiata Arena with the former putting on the block his 147-pound belt for the first time since winning the same January this year.
That day, the two protagonists appeared in the traditional Grand Arrival ceremony held posh Le Meridien at the heart of this city.
“Lucas is ready, he prepared hard for this fight and confident he’s still the champion when we get back to Argentina,” Matthysse’s manager Mario Acano murmured in the first of only two questions this writer could field in what was supposed to be an affair for media but turned out a chaotic event instead.
“As I told you during the press conference two month ago this fight’s gonna be war. It will. We prepared Lucas to make war. He’s ready to retire Pacquiao as he promised,” Acano assured.
Pacquiao, on the hand, in his usual altar boy image, remained humble, saying, ”well, I’m ready, too. Kung handa siya, well and good. Ibig lang sabihin, magandang laban ito as I have been predicting in the first place. Maganda yan para sa fans.”
Matthysse arrived at the venue 15 minutes late at his scheduled 10 a.m. turn followed by the fighting senator an hour later.
Pacquiao and his team flew late Monday night here following a four-hour Philippine Airlines chartered fight from General Santos City where he held camp for two month.
Matthysse came here a week earlier to acclimatize himself with Malaysia’s humid weather. He, along with trainer Joel Diaz spent some two months training under the cold Chino City weather in California.
Manny is a heavy favorite to hurdle Matthysse in his bid to win another world championship following his loss of his 147-pound World Boxing Organization version of the crown to Australian former school teacher Jeff Horn July last year.
Pacquiao’s team of trainers expressed belief that the Argentine’s aggressive style of fighting is tailor made for the aging 39-years-old warrior’s 23 years experience.
Chief trainer Buboy Fernandez and strength and conditioning Coach Justin Fortune have been studying Matthysse’s recent fights and both agreed the Argentine has a suspect chin after viewing footage of his stoppage loss to Viktor Postol in 2015.
However, extreme caution should be exercised here as Matthysse is known as a formidable puncher with 36 knockouts to his credit which he full displayed when he scored a sensational eighth round knockout over little known Tewa Kiram on HBO’s Boxing After Dark in January.
At 35, according to his detractors, “The Machine” is no longer in his prime but power is usually the last thing to go as fighter’s age, and the defending champion has proven this true many times over.
While Matthysse has defeated some good, not great fighters, his loses have all come at the hands of elite opponents.