Manny Pacquiao rolled back the years as he stopped WBA welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse on Sunday – the 39-year-old Filipino icon’s first knockout win since 2009.
It was a devastating display as “smoking hot” Pacquiao registered the 60th win of a fabled 23-year career that now looks certain to extend beyond his 40th birthday in December.
Pacquiao knocked down the big puncher from Argentina as early as the third round with a stunning left uppercut that thudded around the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur.
The 35-year-old Argentine, who came in with a reputation as a big puncher, had no answer to Pacquiao’s blistering speed and he was dropped again in the fifth.
When a right-left combination thudded home to send Matthysse crashing down for a third time in the seventh round referee Kenny Bayless stepped in to save him from further punishment.
“It was a long time ago since I’ve done that. I came out smoking hot,” said Pacquiao (pictured on the right, AFP) who extended his record to 60 wins, seven losses and two draws.
“I’m surprised I knocked him down so early – in the third, fifth and seventh.
“We did a good job in training. We were not pushing hard – we controlled our pace and ourselves.
“I’m no longer young, so thanks to my trainer and all my team members.”
A shellshocked Matthysse, who had come in with a record of 36 knockouts in 39 wins with just four defeats, conceded he had no answer to Pacquiao’s speed, movement and power as the “old Manny” returned with a vengeance.
“It’s most difficult to be fighting Manny Pacquiao,” he said. “He’s a great fighter. I lost to a great legend.”
On a great morning in Malaysia for the Philippines, Jhack Tepora earlier stopped Mexico’s Edivaldo Ortega to win the interim World Boxing Association featherweight title.
Tepora unleashed a wicked short right hand in the ninth round to knock down Ortega for the first time in what had been to that point an even contest.
He swiftly followed up with a barrage of powerful swinging punches that forced the referee to step in after 2min 38sec of round nine.
“I didn’t expect the win, but I really trained hard for this fight for three long months,” said the big-punching Tepora, who extended his unbeaten record to 22 wins with 17 inside the distance.
Tepora cited Pacquiao as his inspiration. “When I saw Manny’s story, coming from the streets, I thought one day I could be like that and this is the first step to that dream,” he said.
Moruti Mthalane from KwaZulu Natal in South Africa got off the canvas to take home the vacant International Boxing Federation flyweight title by outpointing Waseem Muhammad, who was bidding to become Pakistan’s first ever world champion.