Manny Pacquiao’s lead sparring partner George “Ferocious” Kambosos Jr believes changes to the former eight-division world champion’s training regime will pay dividends when the Filipino superstar steps into the ring to challenge Lucas Matthysse for his WBA welterweight title at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia this Sunday.
The WBO number 11 ranked lightweight has been part of Pacquiao’s last two training camps and has witnessed firsthand the difference between the two preparations.
“There has been a huge difference from the [Jeff] Horn camp to this camp against Matthysse,” said Kambosos, 14-0 (8). “He is more focused to recapture this title and be world champion again. He trained a lot smarter and took the right recovery and rest that a 39-year-old fighter should.
“But most of all he is happier and enjoying himself. Like they say, a happy fighter is a dangerous fighter.”
The 11-time world champion was last in action in July last year when he was outpointed by Australian Jeff Horn 18-1-1 (12) in front of 51,000 fight fans at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, losing his WBO world title in the process.
In that fight the unheralded former schoolteacher mugged Pacquiao from the opening bell, backing up the naturally smaller man and smothering him on the inside. Pacquiao found his rhythm by the middle rounds and had Horn out on his feet in the ninth, but couldn’t finish the job. The Queenslander finished the stronger of the two and was awarded the victory by unanimous decision.
The 35-year-old Argentine bomber presents a different problem. With tremendous power in both fists, Matthysse 39-4 (36) will fancy his chances to catch Pacquiao coming in with a fight-changing big right hand at some stage during the bout.
But the word out of the Pacquiao camp is that it will be their boxer who will be standing over a prone opponent at the end of the fight, not the other way around.
It would mark the first time Pacquiao has knocked someone out since he stopped Miguel Cotto in the 12th round of their fight almost nine years ago.
“I think he does have the power to stop guys at welterweight still,” said Kambosos. “He is still extremely fast, powerful and punches from those awkward angles that made him so dangerous early in his career.
“I think styles make fights and in saying that, Lucas Matthysse is picture-perfect for Manny’s style. From the hard work we have done in camp, I expect to see a vintage Pacquiao victory.”
The unbeaten Australian, who faces JR Magboo 17-1-2 (8) on the undercard, has no qualms in predicting a winner for the fight.
“My prediction is Manny will win,” said Kambosos. “I’m not gonna predict a knockout or anything like that, I just know he will get the job done. We have trained way too hard to let this fight slip.”