Questions abounded about what Manny Pacquiao had left.
After all, the Filipino legend, winner of world titles in a boxing-record eight weight divisions and one of the greatest fighters in history, is 39 now. He was also coming off a one-year layoff, a controversial loss and a change of trainers when he returned to the ring on Sunday to challenge Lucas Matthysse for his secondary welterweight title.
But any doubts that Pacquiao still has something to offer were put to rest as he turned in a sensational performance in a seventh-round knockout of Matthysse at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The fight headlined the Top Rank on ESPN+ card.
Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) got off to a good start, going at Matthysse from the opening bell and firing jabs and combinations against his slower opponent.
Pacquiao dominated the second round and then really took command in the third round when he split Matthysse’s guard with a powerful left uppercut to score a knockdown. Matthysse didn’t appear badly hurt but Pacquiao continued to beat him to the punch with shots from all angles. Matthysse (39-5, 36 KOs), 35, of Argentina, was a sitting duck with little head movement as Pacquiao found a home for his jab and straight left hand.
While Matthysse looked for one big punch with his right hand, Pacquiao methodically broke him down. He landed a left to the body and head that seemed to rattle Matthysse in a dominant fifth round that ended with Pacquiao landing a right hand to the temple that made Matthysse take a knee for another knockdown just as the round was ending.
Pacquiao continued to pound a befuddled Matthysse in the sixth round. The best shot he landed was a low blow on Pacquiao in the round that caused referee Kenny Bayless to give him a chance to recover.
The low blow hardly slowed Pacquiao, who continued to overwhelm Matthysse in the seventh round before he landed a hard left uppercut that knocked him down for the third time in the fight. Bayless began the count but then quickly waved it off at 2 minutes, 43 seconds as Matthysse spit out his mouthpiece, sending the pro-Pacquiao crowd into a frenzy.