What we learned from Manny Pacquiao's knockout win over Lucas Matthysse


Manny Pacquiao knocked out Lucas Matthysse in the seventh round for the WBA "regular" world welterweight title at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, shown live on ESPN+. Here is what we learned from Pacquiao's sparkling display.

It's not game over for Pacman

Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs), 39, showed there is life in him yet. This win -- his first knockout since stopping Miguel Cotto in November 2009 -- has silenced arguments that he is on the slide after losing to Jeff Horn a year ago.

It was a return to winning ways after the controversial defeat on points to Australian Horn, and Pacquiao also picked up a secondary world title.

This victory silenced talk of his declining power and instead sets up the possibility of higher-earning fights for the Filipino.

Matthysse (39-5, 36 KOs), 35, of Argentina, was floored three times by Pacquiao, who landed an overwhelming 95 punches to 57,according to CompuBox.

Pacquiao -- boxing's only eight-division world champion -- proved his career is not in wind-down or in crisis.

"I'm still here," Pacquiao said. "Sometimes you just need to rest and get it back, and that's what I did."

The jolting left uppercut that decked Matthysse for a third time in the seventh round was proof that Pacquiao should still be taken seriously, regardless of how little threat Matthysse offered. He floored Matthysse with the same precise shot in the third round.

Had Pacquiao delivered another laboured performance like the one against Horn, then there would have been calls for him to retire.

But not now.

Pacman came into the fight after the longest layoff of his career -- 378 days -- and after splitting with Freddie Roach, the erudite boxing trainer who guided him for 16 years, earlier this year. Roach had suggested that Pacquiao hang up his gloves after losing to Horn.

To crush Matthysse like that after the loss, layoff, split with Roach and at 39 years old only improves Pacquiao's legendary status. What is more remarkable is that Pacquiao spends most of his time now as a senator in the Philippines, juggling his political career with his boxing.

But keep it in perspective

As good as Pacquiao was, Matthysse was disappointing, and the Filipino's triumph does not overturn the fact he is slowing down.

It remains to be seen whether Pacquiao can replicate the same buzzsaw style that terrorised opponents with nonstop aggression pre-2015.

And is it any surprise that Pacquiao should be slowing down at his age after turning professional as a penniless 14-year-old in 1995? He won his first world title at 18 and in recent years has been troubled by a shoulder injury.

If Pacquiao continues to box on and target one of the rival titleholders or top contenders in his next fight, he will be swimming into dangerous waters.

Who's next?

Pacquiao did not reveal any preference for a future opponent after finishing off Matthysse, but one of the rival titleholders seems the most obvious.

Fights against Keith Thurman [who holds the full WBA world title], IBF champion Errol Spence Jr or WBO king Terence Crawford would be big pay days for Pacquiao, but fights most would expect him to lose.

All the above are in their prime and a decade younger than Pacquiao.

Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs), who is also promoted by Top Rank, is the easiest to be make but perhaps the biggest fight for Pacquiao now is against Vasyl Lomachenko, boxing's pound-for-pound No. 1 who would have to step up from lightweight for a catchweight clash.

Pacquiao has previously talked of fighting Ukraine's Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs), who is also promoted by Top Rank.

But that would be a no-victory situation for Pacquiao ... and it could be humiliating. Lightning-fast Lomachenko is due to fight again in November or December after recovering from injury and would be Pacquiao's best opponent for five fights since he was outpointed by Floyd Mayweather in May 2015.

There are other options

There might not be much appetite for a rematch with Jessie Vargas, whom Pacquiao out-pointed two years ago, but the American is next behind Pacquiao in the WBA rankings and at No. 3 with all four world governing bodies.

England's Amir Khan, who fights Sept 8, has long craved a fight with Pacquiao, although his speed -- still intact based on his last one-round win -- would be a major concern.

But a fight in Dubai or elsewhere in Asia against Khan, whose parents come from Pakistan, makes it an interesting proposition for Pacquiao and his sizable entourage.

A farewell fight in the Philippines, where Pacquiao last fought 12 years ago, against a benign opponent would be a fitting farewell for a boxing legend and spare him from defeat against a younger opponent.

But the lure of a big-money fight means Pacquiao, who has career earnings of $300 million but has given away a lot to benevolent causes and has large tax debts, is likely to roll the dice.

Matthysse looks finished at elite level

After offering such little opposition and danger against Pacquiao, Matthysse, 35, may never fight for major titles again. He looked slow and his reactions let him down in his fifth professional defeat.

The Argentine has been in some thrilling nights down the years and began 2018 by fulfilling his lifetime ambition of winning a world title.

But Matthysse failed to shine against Thailand's obscure Tewa Kiram -- he only came alive in the eighth round -- and he was disappointing against Pacquiao, offering little resistance.

The eighth-round KO win over Kiram was Matthysse's second fight in 27 months since a heavy knockout loss to Victor Postol in October 2015.

Matthysse's career was almost finished by the shock loss to Postol -- it took him 19 months to fight again -- during which he broke an orbital bone and injured his cornea. He beat Russian Ruslan Provodnikov in one of the best fights of 2015, but it was another fight that shortened Matthysse's career.

The $2 million payday from fighting Pacquiao may have been Matthysse's last fight in the big time after beginning his career in small-hall shows in Argentina.

If it is, Matthysse will be remembered as a crowd-pleaser who never ducked a challenge.