The plan is for De la Hoya and Matthysse to announce the fight after Holy Week, possibly on April 4, in Manila. AP/file

Oscar de la Hoya coming to town?
Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - March 13, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Oscar de la Hoya is expected to fly into Manila to formally launch the WBA welterweight title fight between defending champion Lucas (The Machine) Matthysse of Argentina and challenger Sen. Manny Pacquiao in Malaysia on June 24 with the legendary Golden Boy making his first visit to the country of the man who ended his career in 2008.

The plan is for De la Hoya and Matthysse to announce the fight after Holy Week, possibly on April 4, in Manila. Then, they will join Pacquiao on a trip to Kuala Lumpur in the second leg of a promotional media tour that may also include stops in Beijing, Tokyo, Macau and Hong Kong. The bout in Malaysia is penciled to take place after the Ramadan season from May 15 to June 14.

It was Pacquiao who brought the curtains down on De la Hoya’s ring career with an eighth round stoppage in Las Vegas in 2008. That closed De la Hoya’s 16-year boxing odyssey where he compiled a record of 39-6, with 30 KOs, and collected world titles in six different weight divisions, two less than Pacquiao. The only fighters who beat De la Hoya were Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather, Bernard Hopkins, Sugar Shane Mosley twice and Tito Trinidad. Before De la Hoya lost a majority decision to Trinidad in 1999, he had a 31-0 record.

De la Hoya founded Golden Boy Promotions in 2002 and Matthysse is in his stable. Matthysse, 35, will make his first defense of the WBA crown against Pacquiao. He claimed the vacant title via an eighth round stoppage of Thailand’s Teerachai Kratingdaeng Gym at the Forum in Inglewood, California, last Jan. 27. Matthysse suffered a cut near his left eye in the fourth round but otherwise, had no difficulty disposing of the Thai. His left eye has been a cause for concern. In 2014, he was cut over the left eye in beating John Molina Jr. and a year later, took the 10-count on one knee, bowing to Viktor Postol, complaining of temporary blindness in the same eye. He was later diagnosed with a fractured left orbital bone.

Matthysse didn’t fight in 2016 to heal his damaged eye then came back from a 19-month layoff to stop Emmanuel Taylor in May last year. Against Teerachai, Matthysse had some shaky moments and was behind in one of the three judges scorecards when referee Raul Caiz Sr. waved it off after the Thai was decked twice. Golden Boy president Eric Gomez once described Matthysse as a fan-friendly fighter because of his aggressive and devil-may-care style. “The TV networks love him,” said Gomez who noted that Matthysse has performed on HBO and Showtime. Matthysse doesn’t back down from anyone and his fight against Pacquiao is a guaranteed barn-burner.

Matthysse comes from a boxing family. His parents Mario and Doris, brother Walter and sister Soledad are former fighters. Matthysse has tattoos all over his body and is a tattoo artist himself. Across his chest are the Spanish words translated into English as “let us swear to die with glory.” A two-fisted brawler, Matthysse has the power to put any opponent to sleep with either hand although his left hook to the body is probably his best punch. He has a 92 percent knockout rate, chalking up 36 stoppages in 39 wins with only four losses, two of which were by split decision to DeVon Alexander and Zab Judah.

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