After weeks of wheeling and dealing, Manny Pacquiao's crack at the World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight crown of Lucas Matthysse of Argentina has been "signed, sealed and delivered", according to Oscar De La Hoya.
Filipino Pacquiao, 39, last fought in a unanimous points loss to Australian Jeff Horn in July a year ago.
For the first time in over 17 years, the eight-weight world champion won't have long-time coach Freddie Roach in his corner when he trades leather with Matthysse; the Hall-of-Famer and seven-time Trainer of the Year has been replaced by his assistant, Buboy Fernandez - Pacquiao's lifelong friend. For Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs) it fulfills a dream to face Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs). However, it goes without saying that Pacquiao is no longer the elite fighter he once was even just a few years ago.
Regarding Roach's dismissal, Koncz told ESPN: "There was some concerns Manny had in the last fight and some statements Freddie made to the media that Manny wasn't very pleased about". In fact, 15 of Matthysse's last 16 victories have ended in stoppage, and that includes knocking out one of the better boxers in Thailand in the eighth round a couple months ago. Pacquiao threw 573 punches in his last fight and landed 32 percent of them, so the hand speed and aggressiveness is still there and should be respected.
Promoted by Arum, Lomachenko, a former World Boxing Organization super featherweight champ, is set to challenge WBA lightweight titleholder Jorge Linares on May 12 at New York's famed Madison Square Garden.
Pacquiao remains hopeful that a fight with Matthysse will lead to a catchweight showdown with pound-for-pound star Vasyl Lomachenko in the autumn.
He also pointed out that the July 15 title clash was taking place at a time when the Senate would be in recess, allowing Pacquiao to prepare for what many see as a make-or-break encounter for the well-loved Pinoy boxing icon.
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