Lucas Matthysse vs. Manny Pacquiao: From Malaysia to Bolivian?
After his pair of fighters, Manuel Mendez and Saul Sanchez, came out victorious, last Friday night at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, California, trainer Joel Diaz came over to ringside to talk to Beto Duran and Yours Truly, who were on the call for Thompson Boxing Promotions.
Eventually the subject turned to Diaz’s most high-profile client, WBA “regular” welterweight titlist Lucas Matthysse, who is scheduled to face Manny Pacquiao, on July 14, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
There has been a lot of speculation as to whether this event would come to fruition, given that deadlines had passed for money to arrive to Golden Boy Promotions and Matthysse.
When Diaz was asked if his flight was booked, he answered, “No. I was actually thinking about that. They said we were supposed to leave on the 1st (of July) and we’re a week away from the 1st of July and nobody has told us anything. So I’m skeptical; it worries me.”
As for Matthysse himself, Diaz says, “He doesn’t think about it because he just trains – he’s in a zone. He’s not thinking about what’s out there. He’s just focusing, getting ready.”
When this deal was consummated, a few months ago, and an Asia press tour embarked, Golden Boy had received a half-million dollars. So in a worst case scenario, Matthysse – who’s been in Indio, California, for the past couple of months – wouldn’t come out empty-handed.
“He wants the fight and he’s very motivated. We’ve been having a great camp,” Diaz told Beto and me. “He’s been having great sparring partners and I made sure he got the proper work. He’s been executing everything that we’ve been working on. So that tells me that he’s ready. I’ve been putting up a great plan. I did two plays for Manny Pacquiao, when Manny Pacquiao was pound-for-pound the best in the world.
“Right now at age 40, he’s not the Manny Pacquiao that was back then. Like I said, it’s 50/50; it’s a coin toss but the only thing I believed about Lucas Matthysse is his power. I can see the power in his exchanges with these young guys, and I can see how he hurts guys when he lands these shots. And I think that if he lands a great left hook or an overhand right on Manny Pacquiao, the way he’s landing them – he can hurt him.”
Diaz added, “Lucas’ manager was supposed to be here since the 15th and he hasn’t been here. We haven’t heard anything from him. So those are little things that are worrying me, at this point.”
On Saturday night, Mario Arano, had arrived in the States and was at the Belasco Theater, where Golden Boy staged a card. At this point GBP officials expressed doubt if Matthysse-Pacquiao would come to fruition. They had declined to comment publicly about this situation, as to not embarrass Pacquiao.
By Monday morning, GBP founder Oscar De La Hoya reached out to assure everyone that the fight would become a reality and that he was,”very confident” that there would be a fight in Malaysia.
Bob Arum, whose company Top Rank is handling the television distribution for this event, hasn’t been shy about expressing his doubts. However he said on Tuesday, “Oscar’s the one that would know. The big money has to be put up for Matthysse. If Matthysse is satisfied that the money is up or is coming, then he knows better than anybody else. He knows better than me.”
So best case scenario: Just who will be televising this fight?
“Well, we’re not doing anything till the fight is an absolute reality. We’re not going to jerk anybody’s chain,” stated Arum, who did mentioned money had arrived for the production and distribution end of things to his people. “So there is progress.”
Yeah, what a fine mess.
“If it happens, it’s not a mess. If it doesn’t happen – it’s a mess,” said Arum, as only he can.
Meanwhile Diaz believes his fighter is ready to shock the world.
“Lucas has been training; he’s been in camp 100 percent. He’s been taking this serious. Like I told him the other day, ‘Lucas, you know this fight is very important. It took you three attempts to capture a world title and you’re not going to let it go.’ He said, ‘I’m not going to let it go; I’m going to hold it. That’s why I’m training as hard as I’m training.’
“He’s very happy. Previous times he was barely breaking the ice with me here, away from his country, training here with me. Now he’s comfortable; now he’s like family. As a matter of fact his wife and daughter came with him last week to spend some time with him. He was really, really happy. So he’s motivated.”
The question is, by the end of this week, will Matthysse and his team be on a plane to Kuala Lumpur?
Here is this week’s episode of “The 3 Knockdown Rule,” with Mario Lopez and me. We talk all things boxing and rank the “Rocky” movies.
Recommended viewing: “Love Means Zero,” a look at Nick Bollettieri, his tennis empire and his fractured relationship with his best known pupil Andre Agassi. It was fascinating for all 90 minutes…Yeah, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I’m loving “Succession” on HBO…So has “Shirley Winkle” figured out that Matchroom Boxing Group Managing Director Eddie Hearn and IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua have other plans besides facing WBC beltholder Deontay Wilder?…Speaking of Thompson Boxing, Beto and I are back calling their card, this Saturday night from Sacramento. The card features featherweight hopeful Ruben Villa…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.