July bout will decide future: Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao sparring with his childhood friend and assistant trainer Restituto "Buboy" Fernandez during a training session in Manila on Thursday. Pacquiao is due to challenge Argentinian Lucas Matthysse for the WBA welterweight title on July 14.
Manny Pacquiao sparring with his childhood friend and assistant trainer Restituto "Buboy" Fernandez during a training session in Manila on Thursday. Pacquiao is due to challenge Argentinian Lucas Matthysse for the WBA welterweight title on July 14.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MANILA • Philippine boxing legend Manny Pacquiao says the outcome of his July 14 World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight title bout against Argentinian Lucas Matthysse will likely determine whether he will hang up his gloves after a storied career.

After a one-year hiatus from the ring, the 39-year-old has started training two weeks earlier than usual to bring himself up to peak fighting condition.

"I am not saying it will be the last, but it will be the basis to think about (whether) to continue or not," he told AFP after a training session in Manila on Thursday.

"So I am trying my best and doing our best in the training in this fight to show if I can still do it or not."

Pacquiao has won world titles across an unprecedented eight different weight classes, but critics - including Matthysse, 35 - question his ability to box at the top of his game due to his age.

Pacquiao, who won 38 of his first 47 professional fights by knockout, has not knocked out an opponent in nearly nine years.

The fight in Kuala Lumpur comes a year after the southpaw lost his World Boxing Organisation welterweight crown in a shock points defeat by Australia's Jeff Horn.

In contrast, Matthysse won the vacant WBA belt after defeating Thailand's Teerachai Sithmorseng in January.

"(Matthysse) is a very aggressive fighter. I am not worried about his style. My worry is I need to get 100 per cent conditioned - the stamina, the power and the strength to survive the 12 rounds," said Pacquiao, who also rejected criticism that his recent losses have tarnished his record.

However, the challenger predicted that his fans would see him in top form in Malaysia, where he will have a different head coach in his corner.

Restituto "Buboy" Fernandez was chosen by Pacquiao over longstanding American trainer Freddie Roach for the fight and he believes training with his compatriot will help him get back to his best.

"Buboy adapted the style of Freddie Roach and he knows what to do for this training, so I am confident with Buboy," Pacquiao added.

"A young Manny Pacquiao throwing a lot of punches, and more footwork, head movements, side-by-side (motions) - that's my goal to achieve for this fight."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2018, with the headline 'July bout will decide future: Pacquiao'. Print Edition | Subscribe