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Pacquiao posts first KO victory in 9 years

KUALA LUMPUR – The legend continues.

Manny Pacquiao is back in busi­ness after stopping Argentine Lu­cas Matthysse in the seventh round to capture the World Boxing Asso­ciation (WBA) welterweight crown Sunday at the Axiata Arena.

American referee Kenny Bayless didn’t even bother to finish the count when Matthysse dropped to one knee, forcing him to call it off at 2:43 and sending the boister­ous crowd on its feet.

Pacquiao had floored Matthysse in the third round with a right-left and produced another knockdown in the fifth when a series of rights to Matthysse’ side of the head forced him to take a knee in what was a delayed reaction.

“I knew he could not handle my power. I could see his reaction to every (power) punch that I landed, ” said Pacquiao, who won his 12th world title fight in eight weight classes, the WBA title being his first as he had won championships in other alphabet boxing bodies in an exemplary career.

The abbreviated win was Pac­quiao’s first stoppage in almost a decade with Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto being the last fighter the eight-division champion beat by kayo in Nov. 2009.

With President Rodrigo Duterte and Malaysian Prime Minister Ma­hathir Mohammad watching from the VIP seats, Pacquiao put on a show of force in his first fight in over a year following the sorry loss to Jeff Horn in Brisbane.

Going into the scheduled 12-rounder, there were fears that Pac­quiao would come out flat.

But the 39-year-old Pacquiao erased all the doubts by dictating the tempo with controlled aggression, a tactic that he followed to the letter.

Instead of flailing away at Mat­thysse when he got him hurt, Pac­quiao opted to “control his pace” and not allowing himself to “be careless” just like in the past.

Fighting for only the third time in 17 years without Freddie Roach in his corner, Pacquiao turned to long­time friend Buboy Fernandez for pointers and their team-up could very well formalize the breakup in­volving one of boxing’s most cher­ished boxer-trainer relationship.

Still, Pacquiao told the media that he would explore the possibility of having Roach again in his camp but it is likely that such won’t be hap­pening given the current setup of the training team.

Pacquiao called his beatdown of Matthysse as a “convincing victory” and it was truly an impressive per­formance for somebody who had lost four of his last 13 fights after the Cotto conquest.

Pacquiao thus raised his record to 60-6-2 with 39 KOs, while the loss saw Matthysse’s mark sink to 39-39-5 with 36 KOs.

Matthysse took his hat off to con­gratulate his celebrated conqueror.

“You win some, you lose some. He is a great fighter and a great legend.