Fans split on Manny Pacquiao’s fight
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - May 25, 2018 - 12:00am

Even as challenger Manny Pacquiao declared himself the underdog in his July 15 fight against WBA welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse of Argentina in Kuala Lumpur, oddsmakers insist the Filipino boxing icon is the favorite. The early betting shows that a $213 wager will win $100 for Pacquiao while a $100 stake will take in $155 for Matthysse.

But despite what the bookies claim, fans aren’t convinced it’ll be smooth sailing for Pacquiao. Strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune, who’s in Manila training Pacquiao, described Matthysse more dangerous than Jeff Horn and just as dirty but said because of the disparity in skill and speed, the Filipino should win by a stoppage.

In a random survey conducted by the London weekly trade magazine Boxing News, fans took wild swings at both fighters. Andrew Tobman said it will be a fun fight and a good match. “A prime Manny wins handily,” he said. “I think Matthysse wins on cleaner, harder punches in an action fight.”

Amina Montero said if Pacquiao wins, it will be by a unanimous decision but if Matthysse wins, it will be by a knockout. “Even at almost 40, Pacquiao is still good enough to beat most of today’s top welters,” she said. Jerry Ramirez said “if Lucas connects like Horn did, Manny will be in big trouble.” Ramirez should’ve qualified what he meant by “connects.” Horn did more damage to Pacquiao with headbutts than punches but got away with it because referee Mark Nelson tolerated the shenanigans.

Fortune, an Australian like Horn, said if the WBO welterweight champion fights Terence Crawford like he fought Pacquiao in Brisbane last July, he’ll be disqualified. “Horn fights dirty, that’s how we fight in Australia,” he said. “But in Las Vegas where Horn will fight Crawford, he’ll be disqualified if he does that. I expect Crawford to win easily. Horn’s a tough physical guy and he’ll try to muscle in on Crawford. But Crawford is too good a fighter for Horn.” Fortune said the Crawford-Horn fight will be a bust in the box office because neither is a crowd pleaser.

Fortune said he was critical of how Horn fought Pacquiao and drew brickbats from his countrymen but couldn’t care less. “I thought Manny won the fight by two rounds,” he said. “That referee (Nelson) would’ve stopped the fight at the end of the ninth round but Horn’s people told him not to. Can you believe that? Matthysse fights dirty, too, and uses a lot of elbows. What makes him more dangerous than Horn is he can punch. But can he land? Matthysse’s slow and he won’t be able to handle Manny’s speed. He’ll come in well-conditioned so Manny must also be in top shape and he will be.”

Another Boxing News reader Duane Howard said Pacquiao will win by a unanimous decision. “He doesn’t have the ruthless instinct to get a KO anymore,” said Howard. Master Pete said, “Manny should retire ... Matthysse probably wins but Manny is finished.” Justin Powell said “a washed-up Pacquiao beats a washed-up Matthysse” and Joseph McGuinness said Pacquiao will win on points. “Both have been around the block,” said McGuinness. “Pacquiao will be wary of the fact that Matthysse can KO him. He’s been very cautious since the Juan Manuel Marquez KO. But Pacquiao is the better boxer. I see a 12-round win for Manny.”

Former two-time world champion Gerry Peñalosa said it will be an easy fight for Pacquiao because Matthysse is slow and will be a sitting duck. But Peñalosa admitted Matthysse is a fearsome puncher with 36 stoppages in 39 wins or a 92 percent knockout rate. The question is whether Matthysse will be able to connect. Pacquiao surely won’t be an obliging target. Both Pacquiao, 39, and Matthysse, 35, are in the crossroads of their careers. Losing isn’t an option for both and that’s why the “Fight of Champions” is destined to be a barnburner.

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