World welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse saluted Manny Pacquiao on Thursday but vowed to beat the Filipino boxing legend when they square off on Sunday.
“He is a great champion but he still hasn’t faced ‘The Machine’,” Argentina’s Matthysse told reporters at a packed press conference in Kuala Lumpur ahead of their WBA title clash. “If he decides to retire after I beat him then that is his decision, I am here to defend my title.”
Veteran Pacquiao, who is chasing a 60th win of his long career, will turn 40 in December and has not fought since losing his WBO welterweight belt to Australia’s Jeff Horn in Brisbane a year ago.
Knockout specialist Matthysse has finished 36 of his 39 wins inside the distance and won the vacant WBA belt after an eighth-round stoppage of Thailand’s Teerachai Sithmorseng in January.
His action-packed style, said Pacquiao, was one of the reasons the fight attracted him.
“When I saw his fight against Teerachai it was a good fight,” said the Filipino, who has won world titles in an unprecedented eight weight divisions in more than 20 years as a professional fighter. “I believe we can create good action in the ring so the fans will be happy.”
Pacquiao was thrown out of kilter by Horn’s rough-house tactics a year ago and the Filipino’s conditioning coach, Justin Fortune, said they had prepared for similar from the aggressive Argentine.
‘He punches a lot harder’
“This guy Matthysse is a lot better than Jeff Horn, he punches a lot harder,” said Australian Fortune, a former heavyweight who once fought Lennox Lewis.
Matthysse’s last defeat came against Ukrainian Viktor Postol for a WBC super lightweight world title fight in October 2015.
“We are expecting the same sort of methods as Horn,” added Fortune.
Now in the twilight of a 23-year professional career, Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) has not stopped an opponent for nine years as he juggles his boxing career with being an elected senator.
Pacquiao, wjho is idolised by tens of millions in the Philippines, defied calls to retire after the Horn defeat, but said in May that his performance in Sunday’s fight could well determine his future in the ring.