Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao on Sunday scored a knockout victory against Argentinian fighter Lucas Matthysse in Malaysia, his first stoppage win in almost a decade.
In doing so, the 39-year-old senator from the Philippines bagged the World Boxing Association's welterweight title in the fight in Axiata Arena stadium in Kuala Lumpur.
He knocked out the 35-year-old Matthysse in the seventh round, following a combination of multiple punches.
Before that, Pacquiao also scored knockdowns in the third and fifth rounds, prompting tens of thousands of Filipinos supporters in the stadium to cheer wildly.
The knockout win was the first since 2009 when Pacquiao stopped Miguel Cotto. The fight with Matthysse was his first since July 2017 when he lost to Australian fighter Jeff Horn.
The audience in Kuala Lumpur included Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who sat next to each other, as well as other top government officials from
the two countries.
"Like I said, I'm not yet done. I'm still there. And it's just a matter of time that you have to rest and get back," Pacquiao said after the match, when asked to give a message to critics who thought
he should have retired after his loss to Horn.
When asked what was next for him, Pacquiao said, "I want to defend my title and give a good show in the ring."
Duterte, who gave Pacquiao two thumbs up after the match, congratulated the senator for bringing pride to the Philippines and uniting Filipinos.
"You have proven time and again that you are not just a public servant, but one of the greatest boxers of all time," he said in a statement. "This win will surely cement, yet again, your position and
legacy in boxing's Hall of Fame."
In the Philippines, many Filipinos watched the fight from public gyms where the match was shown live for free. They jumped in joy, shouted and clapped every time Pacquiao scored a punch against Matthysse. In the seventh round, the cheers were deafening as the referee stopped the fight with Matthysse kneeling on the canvas. Filipino boxing analysts said Pacquiao was back in his old form and
showed his skill in boxing.
"It's been a long time since he has scored a knockout," noted analyst Ed Tolentino. "For the first time in almost a decade, we saw a Manny who should be feared by the young boxers."
"Those who keep saying he's an old man, watch out," he added.
"Pacquiao is the last of his old school. Miguel Cotto has retired. Juan Miguel Marquez has retired. Shane Mosley has retired."
"Pacquiao is the only one left in his generation and he just proved that the old school is still cool," Tolentino said.
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