Saturday, July 14th was a stellar night of Boxing, featuring living legends, fighters in the absolute prime years of their abilities and young promising prospects looking to make their mark in our sport, sooner rather than later. Manny Pacquiao, Regis Prograis and Teofimo Lopez all shined, winning impressively, by KO, as ESPN – the worldwide leader in sports, produced blow-by-blow, knockout coverage of their exploits.
Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KO’s) KO 7 Lucas Matthysse (39-5, 36 KO’s)
The 60th win in the illustrious career of Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao wasn’t unexpected, but the way he won certainly was. For the first time since 2009, Pacquiao stopped an opponent inside the scheduled distance, 12 rounds in this case. Lucas Matthysse was an underdog for sure, he has clearly seen better days, yet no one predicted nor foresaw the ease with which he was handled from the outset, Pacquiao stalked Matthysse, firing his vaunted left cross. Even though the Argentinian knew this was the Filipino’s weapon of choice and undoubtedly prepared to evade it, he was drilled more than he would’ve liked in the very 1st round. Manny was simply too dynamic, athletic and energetic, which would be the prevailing theme for the duration. To the degree Lucas was offensive, it was behind his jab; yet every time he fired it, he was countered with a lead right. Pacquiao was also finding a home for left uppercuts by this point and dropped Matthysse in the 3rd with that very punch.
As the “Pac Man’s aggression and activity persisted, Matthysse’s confidence waned, and he appeared to be looking for ways out. There was an “inadvertent” clash of heads in the 5th, a “knockdown” from a grazing right hook in the same stanza, and an “unintentional” low blow in the 6th. In the 7th, yet another flush left uppercut convinced Matthysse to remain on the canvas. The referee recognized the defeatist body language and wisely ended the proceedings. Afterwards, Pacquiao didn’t rule out a ring return in 2018. His team has expressed interest in facing Vasyl Lomachenko at a catchweight of 140 pounds, but Lomachenko’s camp recently made it known the affair would have to commence at 135. Terence Crawford is another name in the mix, but Amir Khan appears to be the most realistic next option. Pacquiao certainly seems to have another fight or so left in his tank, especially if it’s against men closer to his own size.
Those in attendance at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia were excited and engaged throughout. Watchers on the ESPN+ streaming service were equally fulfilled, especially if they watched the lead-in bouts on ESPN.
Regis “Rougarou” Prograis (22-0, 19 KO’s) vs. Juan Jose Velasco (20-1, 12 KO’s)
Prior to Pacquiao-Matthysse on the ESPN+ app, “Top Rank Boxing on ESPN” presented a doubleheader from Lakefront Arena is New Orleans, Louisiana, featuring WBC interim titlist and native son, Regis Prograis. He squared off against Argentina’s Juan Jose Velasco, with the likes of Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu, Leonard Fournette and “Booger” McFarland there supporting. The ‘Rougarou” is a mythical, werewolf type of creature indigenous to Bayou, Cajun regions such as Louisiana, and Prograis attacks accordingly. Given the magnitude of the event, on a personal level, it’s not surprising Prograis was caught with more shots than he probably expected, in the 1st. A 3-piece combo got Regis’ attention, as did some sneaky counters. By the end of the 2nd, it was apparent Velasco was most available to the body.
To be clear, Prograis landed long left crosses to the head, lead lefts, and punished Velasco whenever his back touched the ropes, yet the body was the clear theme. In the 5th, a lead left uppercut to the solar plexus crumbled Velasco to the canvas, writhing in pain. Near the end of the 7th, Velasco was doubled over, trying to prevent more of the body battering he was receiving, yet was drilled with an unsuspecting left hook behind his protective elbow, to the liver. Saved by the bell in that instance, Velasco tried to quit on his stool, per the ESPN translation of the dialogue, but his trainer wouldn’t allow it. Luckily, after yet another body-shot knockdown in the 8th, adorning the undeniable look of a beaten man, Velasco’s corner did the right thing, throwing in the towel. Prograis will be entering the World Boxing Super Series, where he’s projected by most to tangle with Scotland’s Josh Taylor, in the final.
Teofimo Lopez (10-0, 8 KO’s) vs. William Silva (25-2, 14 KO’s)
In the opener of the televised portion of “Top Rank Boxing on ESPN”, 2016 Honduras Olympian and highly touted prospect, Teofimo Lopez, was pitted against his toughest foe to date, Brazil’s William Silva. Silva’s only prior loss was at the hands of 2012 Puerto Rican Olympian, Felix Verdejo, by decision. Lopez, who was born in Brooklyn and now resides in Las Vegas, didn’t require near as much time becoming victorious. In the very 1st round, Silva was laying on his back, bleeding profusely from the nose, courtesy big left hook from the prodigy who turns 21 on July 30th. Another left hook, around Silva’s protective guard, dropped him again at the end of the 5th, and a 5-piece combination of the aforementioned ended things entirely in the 6th.
Teofimo Lopez has boat loads of star quality, an unpredictable, unrehearsed, video game manner of fighting, yet also carries legitimate ring IQ and a grasp of Boxing fundamentals. Keep your eyes on him for sure; he’s instant entertainment.