At forty, an age when many boxers have decided to call it a day, Filipino boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao no longer has time on his corner.
But in July 2018, Pacquiao scored a scintillating seventh-round knockout of Argentina’s 23-year old Lucas Matthysse to capture the WBA welterweight title—his first since a stoppage victory over Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto in November 2009.
In the lead-up to his ring encounter with the hard-punching Matthysse, the narrative centered on whether or not Pacquiao still had what it takes to pull the trigger.
After all, he looked like a shell of his old self in his controversial decision loss to Jeff Horn. He was coming off a year-long hiatus, and did not have longtime trainer Freddie Roach by his side for the first time in 17 years.
However, Pacquiao silenced his doubters and looked absolutely brilliant in the match against Matthysse, with some claiming this was the best they had seen him in years as the Filipino fistic sensation sizzled over the duration of a contest that was filled with explosive action.
Showing power and speed that many thought he no longer had, Pacquiao dominated Matthysse right from the opening bell, knocking the Argentinian down three times, the last one in the seventh round that forced referee Kenny Bayless to step in.
Despite being at the tail-end of a storied boxing stint spanning over two decades, Pacquiao has seemingly gained access to some taps from the fountain of youth.
Pacquiao, the sport’s only eight-division world champion, will fight for the 70th time in his illustrious career when he squares off with American boxer Adrien Broner at the iconic MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on Sunday, January 20 (PH Time).
In his first bout on US soil since 2016, the southpaw from General Santos City puts his WBA welterweight championship at stake against the man who was once the self-appointed heir to Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s throne—in an effort to shift a reputation of being a career underachiever.
Although many are convinced that the once powerful legend is back in full force following his seventh-round demolition of Matthysse, gone is the Manny Pacquiao of old, the one who flattened Ricky Hatton with a single left hook in the second round or the slugger who made Oscar De La Hoya quit on his stool.
There is no getting that “Pac-Man” back. But there is hope for the new Pacquiao, one that could still at the very least be the veteran to give the top welterweights a stiff test.
Pacquiao has had such a long and celebrated career that it is sometimes easy to forget just how spectacular he was in his prime, how exciting his fights were, and how much pleasure he brought to fans around the world.
It was his rare combination of speed and power that awed so many. Pacquiao would wade fearlessly into battle and was not only willing, but also able to stand in the center of the ring and trade blows.
The very best of Manny Pacquiao bade adieu a couple of years ago, but the gusto to lace up eight-ounce gloves is alive, burning like an eternal flame that refuses to flicker and dim.
Even after 462 rounds, many of which were extremely violent and grueling, Pacquiao steps back into the squared-circle this weekend, taking on a four-division world champion like Broner, who at 29 is 11 years his junior.
Fighters can get old overnight, or so goes the conventional belief in boxing but Pacquiao will make sure that every dynamite punch he throws from this day moving forward will count for the clock is ticking on his bonafide Hall of Fame career.