The Manny Pacquiao-Lucas Matthysse card will stream live on ESPN+, the network and Top Rank announced Saturday after Pacquiao's MP Promotions signed the requisite paperwork following a number of delays.
Pacquiao will challenge Matthysse for his secondary welterweight world title at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on July 15 (July 14 in the United States).
The ESPN+ stream will begin at 9 p.m. ET with undercard coverage and Pacquiao and Matthysse not walking to the ring any earlier than 11 p.m. ET. The fight will take place in the morning in Malaysia.
"I am very happy that all of my fans in America will have a chance to watch my next fight on ESPN+, and I am looking forward to putting on a show," Pacquiao said. "Matthysse is a great opponent. I am training with all of my heart because I want to be champion again."
Pacquiao, the former eight-division world champion and a sitting senator in the Philippines, will be fighting for the first time since last July, when he lost his welterweight world title by a tremendously controversial decision to Jeff Horn in Horn's hometown of Brisbane, Australia, in the main event of the first card of the Top Rank-ESPN long-term contract.
Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs), 39, will be boxing without Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, whom he fired, for the first time in 17 years -- covering 34 fights. His head trainer is now his best friend and longtime assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez.
Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs), 35, a big puncher from Argentina who arrived in Malaysia earlier this week, claimed a vacant secondary welterweight title on Jan. 27 with an eighth-round knockout of Thailand's obscure Tewa Kiram, after which Pacquiao sought a fight with him.
Pacquiao-Matthysse was originally slated to be an ESPN pay-per-view event, but when Pacquiao's longtime promoter, MP Promotions, which is promoting the card instead of Top Rank, missed numerous pay-per-view industry deadlines, the fight was moved to ESPN+.
Top Rank may not be promoting the card, but it is handling the American distribution of the event.
"This extraordinary event only affirms ESPN's commitment to providing boxing fans with the biggest and best fights in the sport," Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said. "Manny Pacquiao is one of the greatest champions in boxing history, and his fight against Matthysse promises to be a sensational one."
ESPN believes a fight such as Pacquiao-Matthysse will bring new viewers to its subscription streaming service.
"This matchup is a perfect example of the world-class caliber of events we envisioned for ESPN+ when we announced our agreement with Top Rank," said Burke Magnus, ESPN's executive vice president of programming and scheduling. "Pacquiao versus Matthysse, which will stream live and exclusively on ESPN+, shows the commitment we have to delivering fans the best of boxing year-round on our direct-to-consumer platform."
The ESPN+ stream will also include undercard action.
In the co-feature, the Philippines' Jhack Tepora (21-0, 16 KOs), 25, will face fellow southpaw Edivaldo "Indio" Ortega (26-1-1, 12 KOs), 27, a Mexican southpaw, for a vacant interim featherweight title. Former flyweight titlist Moruti Mthalane (35-2, 24 KOs), 35, of South Africa, and Pakistan's Muhammad Waseem (8-0, 6 KOs), 30, will battle for the flyweight world title belt recently vacated by Donnie Nietes, who decided to move up in weight to seek a title in a fourth weight class.
The Pacquiao-Matthysse card will cap a big night of boxing for the network. There is another card that will air on ESPN and ESPN Deportes (7 p.m. ET with the full card streaming on ESPN+ beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET) from the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans. It is headlined by No. 1 junior welterweight and New Orleans native Regis Prograis (21-0, 18 KOs), 29, who will take on Juan Jose Velasco (20-0, 12 KOs), 31, of Argentina, in a 12-round bout, with the winner earning a spot in the eight-man World Boxing Super Series tournament due to begin in the fall.
In the co-feature, red-hot Las Vegas-based lightweight prospect Teofimo Lopez (9-0, 7 KOs), 20, a 2016 Olympian for Honduras (his parents' home country), will fight in his first scheduled 10-round bout when he takes on William Silva (25-1, 14 KOs), 31, of Brazil.