Former eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao 59-7-2 (38) might be pushing 40 but he is in red-hot condition ahead of his world title challenge against WBA “regular” titleholder Lucas Matthysse 39-4 (36) at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on July 15.
That is the word out of his training camp as the 39-year-old Filipino senator sparred 12 rounds on Saturday against three different sparring partners as he prepares to claim an unprecedented 11th world title strap against the 35-year-old Argentine power-puncher.
“We are right on track,” said Buboy Fernandez to the Philippine Inquirer.
Fernandez, a lifelong friend of Pacquiao, took over lead training duties from Freddie Roach for this camp after the highly-regarded American coach was unceremoniously dismissed by Pacquiao after his loss to Jeff Horn last year.
“We have two weeks more to go and Manny is ready. We don’t want him to peak too soon,” said Fernandez.
According to the Inquirer, Pacquiao started slowly against Arnel Tinampay 24-21-1 (10) but picked up steam by the time he got to Jheritz Chavez 8-3-2 (6), standing to-to-toe with him from the fifth round through to the eighth. Undefeated Australian lightweight contender George “Ferocious” Kambosos Jr 14-0 (8) was brought in for the last few rounds to push Pacquiao through a simulation of the championship rounds of a fight.
Pacquiao has been testing himself in training of late. On Friday he switched up his normal jogging routine, running up the steep hills of Sarangani instead of along the flatland to put some extra life into his ageing legs.
Meanwhile, Oscar De La Hoya – who is co-promoting the event through Golden Boy Promotions along with Pacquiao’s MP Promotions – told ESPN Deportes over the weekend that all good things must come to an end.
“For me, every legend has his end and I think that this fight with Matthysse may be the end of Pacquiao,” said De La Hoya, who was ironically retired himself by Pacquiao in 2008.
De La Hoya’s statement comes as Pacquiao revealed to Philboxing.com that the financial issues that threatened to derail the fight had been resolved.
“MP Promotions has already settled the financial issues,” he said. “Last Monday we sent the initial payment to the Golden Boy Promotions and the Matthysse camp. The remaining amount will be released as scheduled.
“We are now on the final phase of our preparations for the July 15 bout. Both of us are preparing hard. I don’t want to predict the outcome but I feel this fight will not last the full distance. May the best man win.”
Pacquiao expressed his disappointment with the recent rumours suggesting that the fight was in jeopardy.
“Despite our efforts, there are still some individuals who wanted to sabotage the fight,” Pacquiao was quoted as saying. “I am saddened, but not affected, by what they are doing.
“May God enlighten their minds and soften their hearts.”