First K.O. in 9 years

-PRRD: Manny’s win cements boxing legacy in Hall of Fame

MANNY Pacquiao yesterday scored his first knockout victory in nearly nine years when he floored Argentinian champion Lucas Matthysse to score the WBA welterweight belt at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The 39-year-old Filipino icon hit Matthysse with a left uppercut to end the bout in the seventh round, his first knockout win since Nov. 14, 2009, when he defeated Miguel Cotto, also via technical knockout.

It was a dominant, devastating display as Pacquiao registered the 60th win of a fabled 23-year career that now looks certain to extend beyond his 40th birthday in December.

The Filipino senator knocked down the big-puncher from Argentina as early as the third round with a stunning left uppercut that thudded around the Axiata Arena.

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 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 at 2:43 of the seventh.

“I’m surprise I knocked him down so early,” said Pacquiao who extended his record to 60 wins, seven losses and two draws. “I’m surprised I knocked Matthysse down in the third, fifth and seventh.
It was a long time ago since I’ve done that. I came out smoking hot.”

“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.”

It was his first fight in nearly 20 years without Freddie Roach as his trainer. He was trained by life-long friend Buboy Fernandez.

Pacquiao, who was coming off a controversial loss to Jeff Horn a year ago, looked rejuvenated, though Matthysse offered little resistance.

Pacquiao landed an insanely high 43.6 percent of his power shots, connecting on 79 of the 181 he threw.

But still, it was not the force that he was a decade ago, when in a two-year span he won titles at super featherweight, lightweight, super lightweight, welterweight and super welterweight in one of the dominant runs in modern boxing.

“I’m happy to go back to my country to celebrate this victory with my countrymen, the Filipino people,” Pacquiao said.

President Rodrigo Duterte has congratulated Pacquiao “for giving us pride and bringing the Filipino nation together once more.”
“You have proven time and again that you are not just a public servant, but one of the greatest boxers of all time. This win will surely cement, yet again, your position and legacy in boxing’s Hall of Fame. May you continue to inspire Filipinos not only in boxing but also in the public service,” the president said.
“Daghang salamat, Manny! You are truly the People’s Champ!”
Just like Pacquiao’s previous fights, the city was generally peaceful.
Sr. Insp. Maria Theresita Gaspan, spokesperson of the Davao City Police Office (DCPO), said not even one incident was reported during the fight.
“There was a vehicular accident but it happened early dawn,” Gaspan said.
However, two persons were arrested yesterday for allegedly bringing shabu.
The two were intercepted at the Task Force Davao checkpoint in Lasang (see page 2 for the story).
(With reports from Rhoda Grace B. Saron)