Philippine boxing legend Manny Pacquiao insisted Friday that his advancing years were no barrier to success as he gears up for a showdown against world champion Lucas Matthysse.
Pacquiao, 39, will fight the Argentine — four years his junior — for the World Boxing Association welterweight belt on July 15 in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur.
The Filipino has won an unprecedented eight world titles in different weight classes but some have raised questions about his ability to box at the top of his game due to his age.
But at a joint press conference with Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur, he dismissed such concerns.
“It’s not about a number, it’s not about age, that doesn’t matter,” he said.
“It depends how you discipline yourself in training, how you prepare.”
Pacquiao said that the fight against Matthysse would not be his last, as he wants the final bout of his career to take place in his homeland.
“Definitely this is not my last fight,” he said. “I think I still have got a couple of more fights (until I) retire.”
Pacquiao is currently a senator in the Philippine parliament and many in the country believe he will one day run for president, although the boxer has insisted he is happier in the ring than politics.
He conceded that it was “not easy” to juggle being a top-level boxer and politician.
Matthysse — who took the vacant WBA welterweight title in January — has expressed confidence that he can beat Pacquiao, describing the Filipino as a diminished star.
VIDEO World champion Lucas Matthysse vows a fight "to the death" in his July title defence against Manny Pacquiao, winner of eight unprecedented world titles in different weight classes pic.twitter.com/GEi2oyLCqt— AFP Sport (@AFP_Sport) April 18, 2018
At Friday’s press conference, he said he was a “pretty big puncher with both hands, so that gives me a lot of confidence”.
Pacquiao has not fought since he lost his World Boxing Organization welterweight crown in a shock points defeat to Australia’s Jeff Horn last year, and has not knocked out an opponent in nearly nine years.
The Kuala Lumpur bout will likely mark the first time in 15 years that Pacquiao will be fighting without his long-standing US trainer Freddie Roach, who expressed hurt last week after saying ties have been cut.
The boxer has suggested that role might go to his own friend and compatriot Buboy Fernandez, at least for the Matthysse bout.
Amir Khan is looking forward to riding the wave of interest in British boxing generated by the likes of world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua when he fights in the UK for the first time in five years.
Khan faces Phil Lo Greco of Canada in Liverpool on Saturday 23 months after he was beaten by Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in Las Vegas, having stepped up two divisions to middleweight, and five years since he last fought on home soil against Julio Diaz in Sheffield.
London 2012 Olympic champion Joshua had yet to start his professional career then but Khan, who has put aside differences with the heavyweight’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, to sign a three-fight deal has been impressed by what he’s seen.
“You look at these great fighters like Joshua cleaning up, doing really well, knocking guys out, selling out stadiums and I’m like, ‘Wow, this is where I want to be again’,” Khan told a press conference on Thursday.
“I’ve done it in the past and I want to do it again. I know I’ve got a style where the crowd will come and watch me and want to see me.”
The 31-year-old added: “Fighters like Joshua out there give you that inspiration to come out and do well and sell out stadiums again.
“British boxing was really dying and Eddie’s brought it back alive again. I remember the days when I used to fight in America all the time because in Britain, boxing wasn’t as big as what we wanted it to be.”
Meanwhile Lo Greco insisted the 2004 Olympic silver medallist’s best days are behind.
“I was a fan, I think you’ve done great,” Lo Greco told Khan at the press conference. I’ve studied your boxing. I honestly believe your best years are done, I think your best years were in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and it’s going to show on Saturday night.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn hopes to be able to make a deal for a unification fight between heavyweight champions Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder when he is in New York next week.
Hearn is waiting to hear back from WBC champion Wilder over a showdown with British fighter Joshua, who holds the IBF, WBA and WBO titles.
It is hoped, though, a deal – with a reported fee of some 12.5million US dollars (£8.8million) said to be on the table – can be thrashed out to get both heavyweights into the ring sooner rather than later.
“We made an offer last week. We haven’t heard from them yet. There’s been a bit of talking behind the scenes,” Hearn said on Sky Sports News.
“We are in New York next week for the Danny Jacobs fight and Katie Taylor unification. I’m going to look to meet up with them in New York, get face to face with them, look into the whites of their eyes, and just see if we can make a deal.
“We have made an offer that we feel is substantial, if not we’re happy to talk about the numbers and look at their ideas as well.”
Joshua has been told by the WBA he must put his ‘super’ belt on the line against contender Alexander Povetkin. Hearn admitted that situation had made on-going negotiations with the American’s camp more complicated.
“Anthony’s made it clear – that’s the fight he wants next, the Deontay Wilder fight,” Hearn added.
“With these mandatories coming up as well, Povetkin, and the possible IBF mandatory, I’ve said before there’s not many opportunities to make an undisputed fight. Really the focus is for us to make the Deontay Wilder fight next.
“If not, it has to be the one after, and we’ll have to deal with a mandatory in the meantime. It could be Alexander Povetkin.
“Generally from AJ’s side, from our side, from the team’s side, the Wilder fight is one we have no problems with at all.
“We’ve just got to find the right deal and we’ll be trying to do that next week in New York.”