At one time, Manny Pacquiao carried the pulse of the sport along with Floyd Mayweather until the two eventually fought each other in a dreadful 2015 record breaking match. If you were to tell me that three years later that on fight week, the whole event would be a game time decision. It speaks volumes on where Pacquiao is at this phase of his career; a twilight of hurried desperation to make as much money as possible as quickly as possible.
Pacquiao has no desire to fight for glory and why would he? He has held titles in eight weight classes, made millions on top of millions of dollars and has been hearing the world shout his name to the heavens for well over a decade.
That being said, Pacquiao is no longer that big of a deal anymore, and that’s mostly because of his decision to use his remaining years to make as much money as his name can make for him. The Matthysse fight serves not only that purpose, but also to get him a win against a recognizable name to potentially put him in position to make that one last payout.
One of the reasons that have contributed to Pacquiao’s fade into anonymity is the alienation of former associates Freddie Roach and Bob Arum. Roach was given the boot through the media after Pacquiao’s shocking loss to Jeff Horn last year, and Pacquiao has been at odds with Arum and Top Rank as the Matthysse fight was being made without the approval of his long time promoter. Top Rank insists that Pacquiao is still under contract, but Pacquiao has repeatedly denied the notion that is the case.
Without the boisterous Roach and Top Rank’s media machine behind him, Pacquiao/Matthysse will be a total mess at best with only the most ardent of fight fans being kept up to date about when (or if) it was going to happen.
Now there is no doubt in my mind that this version of Pacquiao, as faded as he is, would dole out a highlight reel beating of Matthysse even at his best. After a string of brutal fights at Junior Welterweight against the likes of Ruslan Provodnikov and John Molina, as well as a beating he took at the hands of Danny Garcia, Matthysse’s run as a top fighter ended when he was beaten into submission by Viktor Postol. A few wins against knick-knack competition at Welterweight kept his head above water for the sharks at that division to drag him down into the abyss, and Pacquiao managed to snag that opportunity.
Matthysse doesn’t have the footwork or physical size to trouble Pacquiao like Horn did. If he could get knocked around by Postol and eventually knocked out, Pacquiao is still fast enough to beat Matthysse to the punch and can land enough to put him down for the count. All things considered, Manny’s world tour can’t have another setback like the Horn fight, so it is extremely likely that everybody involved signed off on Matthysse knowing that he has little outside of power to trouble him.
If Manny can dial it back even a little bit and dominate Matthysse as I expect him to, then the likelihood of a much discussed fight with Vasyl Lomachenko might be out the window. Lomachenko’s nip/tuck fight with Jorge Linares suggests that any fight over 135 would be a tremendous risk for the pound for pound star, and that would include a fight with a still-capable Pacquiao which can prove to be disastrous for Lomachenko.
Pacquiao may already be angling towards his next foe: former Jr. Welterweight champion Amir Khan. Last year, Pacquiao and Khan were engaged in talks for a fight only for that matter to fall apart behind the scenes. Khan’s comeback with Matchroom has sought to reinvigorate the star’s career in the UK, and what better attraction to satisfy both men’s professional and financial aspirations than a fight between two of the most recognizable fighters in the world?
I’d like to hope that would be the end of it for Pacquiao, but with each victory and additional promises of more money in exchange for another chance in the spotlight will only lead to more diminished performances and meaningless fights like the one we’ll see this weekend. Eventually though, he’ll start to lose those fights and lose them big, and Manny Pacquiao’s career won’t end with his head held high as many hoped it would, but rather on his back like so many others.