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Matthysse determined to keep focus

By Nick Giongco

KUALA LUMPUR – Lucas Matthysse has kept himself surrounded with familiar faces since arriving in the Malaysian capital as the Argentine world welterweight king psyches himself up for this Sunday’s clash with Manny Pacquiao.

Even his choice of food intake is being carefully watched with less than a week remaining before his first defense of the World Boxing Association 147-lb crown at the Axiata Arena.

Matthysse, 36, is not touching any of the local cuisine that is heavy on curry, opting instead to gorge on fish, chicken and pasta as part of his main meal as well as fruits and vegetables.

Ramiro Gonzalez, the publicity chief of Matthysse’s promotional outfit Goldenboy Promotions, revealed that their fighter doesn’t intend to entertain interviews except during the press conference set Thursday so he can remain focused on the tough task at hand.

Team Matthysse touched down last Thursday after an 18-hour flight from Los Angeles, where he and his team had camped out since late-April.

Keeping Matthysse company here are manager Mario Arano, strength coach Federico Wittenkamp, Mario Narváez, Marcelino Lopez, sparmate Marvin “Cachorro” Quintero, Ezequiel Mathysse (Lucas’ nephew and son of his brother Walter) and lead trainer Joel Díaz, who will also act as cutman.

Matthysse’s buildup reached its peak when he sparred 10 “explosive rounds” with Quintero during the weekend prior to his departure, according to Gonzalez.

Matthysse had captured the WBA title by knocking out Tewa Kiram of Thailand last January in Los Angeles and his performance didn’t escape the eye of Pacquiao, whose desire to fight the South American was first relayed to the Bulletin in early February during an interview in his Senate office.

Pacquiao was set to arrive early Monday night on a chartered flight from General Santos City, where the Filipino legend camped out in preparation for his bid to become a world champion again.

Oscar De La Hoya, who owns GBP, is due to arrive in time for the press conference since Pacquiao’s MP Promotions has tapped GBP to help stage the first bigtime boxing show in Malaysia in 43 years.