The only man to have won world titles in eight weight divisions in a glittering 23-year career, the 39-year-old Pacquiao tipped the scales at 146 pounds. The heavily tattooed Argentine world champion Matthysse played up his one-inch height advantage by looking down on Pacquiao as the two came face-to-face for the last time before Sunday’s 12-round showdown in Kuala Lumpur. Matthysse came in the heavier man, only just under the limit at 146.7 pounds, as the official weigh-in was held in mildly chaotic scenes at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre. Hundreds of mainly Filipino fans tried to push forward towards the stage to get a glimpse of the two fighters and especially their hero Pacquiao.
As the fighters left following the obligatory toe-to-toe poses and a quick handshake, fans rushed in to take selfies, prompting calls to clear the stage as organisers feared it could collapse before order was restored. Pacquiao is challenging “The Machine” Matthysse for the World Boxing Association welterweight belt on Sunday, knowing defeat could lower the curtain on one of the greatest careers in boxing history. Pacquiao faced calls to retire from friends, family and even his Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach when he lost the WBO belt to journeyman Australian Jeff Horn a year ago. A second successive defeat, this time against the dangerous Argentine at Kuala Lumpur’s Axiata Arena, could see the veteran “National Fist” hang up his gloves for good.
But victory for Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) would see him become a five-time welterweight world champion and extend his legendary status and his life in the ring beyond his 40th birthday in December. Pacquiao is going for his 60th victory since turning pro in 1995, but despite winning 38 of his first 47 fights by knockout, he has not stopped an opponent in nine years. Knock-out specialist Matthysse has finished 36 of his 39 wins inside the distance and took the vacant WBA belt after an eighth-round stoppage of Thailand’s Teerachai Sithmorseng in January. The undercard features three other world title fights, and all the protagonists weighed in under their respective limits.
The interim World Boxing Association featherweight belt is on the line when Mexico’s Edivaldo Ortega (26-1-1, 16 KOs) fights unbeaten and highly rated Filipino prospect Jhack Tepora (21-0, 16 KOs). Vastly experienced South African Moruti “Baby Face” Mthalane (35-2, 24 KOs) defends his International Boxing Federation flyweight title against the unbeaten Pakistani Muhammad Waseem (8-0, 6 KOs). Carlos Canizares of Venezuela (20-0-1, 16 KOs) puts his WBA light flyweight title and unbeaten record on the line against Chinese rookie Lu Bin (1-0, 1 KO), who could become the first boxer in history to win a world title in his second professional fight.