By AFP, with a report from Nick Giongco
MANILA – Manny Pacquiao is to fight Argentina’s World Boxing Association welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse in Malaysia on June 24, the ring legend has announced.
The 39-year-old will be co-promoting the bout after rejecting an offer to fight in Las Vegas on an undercard to his recent conqueror Jeff Horn, who will be facing Terence Crawford on April 14.
Pacquiao said he considers himself the “underdog” against the brawling Matthysse, 35, who has 39 wins – all but three of them via the short route – against four losses.
“This is going to be a tough fight. Matthysse is also a knockout artist. But I’m excited to fight and be a world champion again,” he said in a statement announcing the bout late Thursday.
“I’m the underdog in this fight but I’m used to it. It serves as a big motivation for me to train and fight hard to win the crown,” said Pacquiao, who has won world titles in an unprecedented eight weight divisions.
The Filipino’s trainer Restituto Fernandez said he expects the Kuala Lumpur bout, to be “a real brawl because Matthysse is an aggressive fighter.”
Meantime, Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s long-time promoter, and Golden Boy Promotions, the Oscar De La Hoya-owned outfit that has the 35-year-old Matthysse under contract, express doubts whether a deal has been reached.
“If the money comes up then I’ve agreed to sign on…(but) I’m not booking my flight (to Malaysia) yet,” Arum told ESPN’s Dan Rafael yesterday.
Eric Gomez, who heads GBP, acknowledged that talks have commenced but a deal is far from being done.
“(Pacquiao adviser) Michael Koncz reached out to me and all we did was talk and that’s all I can say. We’re interested in the fight. It’s very preliminary,” said
Matthysse (39-4 with 36 KOs) knocked out Tewa Kiram of Thailand last January in Los Angeles to bag the crown.