By Keith Idec
Joel Diaz delivered a message Thursday to anyone that thinks Lucas Matthysse made this long, transpacific trip simply for the money.
Matthysse’s trainer reminded such skeptics that there will be as much at stake for the defending WBA world welterweight champion as there is for Manny Pacquiao when they meet Sunday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
While Pacquiao will attempt to re-establish himself by winning another welterweight title, the 35-year-old Matthysse will try to remain in position for another high-profile fight against a fellow welterweight champion.
“We got everything ready to go,” Diaz said during a press conference Thursday, according to The Manila Standard. “Lucas Matthysse is not here for a paycheck. He is here to take his title back to his people.
“It cost us 14 years of hard work for Lucas to be a champion. He is not going to come here and give up his belt.”
Argentina’s Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs, 1 NC) won a vacant version of the WBA’s 147-pound championship by knocking out Thailand’s Tewa Kiram in his last fight. Matthysse’s eighth-round knockout of Kiram (38-1, 28 KOs) on January 27 at The Forum in Inglewood, California, thrust him into position for this meaningful fight just three bouts after Ukraine’s Viktor Postol (29-2, 12 KOs) knocked out Matthysse in the 10th round of their WBC super lightweight championship match in October 2015.
The 39-year-old Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) will fight for the first time since suffering a controversial loss to Jeff Horn last July 2. Horn (18-1-1, 12 KOs) upset Pacquiao by unanimous decision in a 12-rounder at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia, Horn’s hometown.
The Pacquiao-Matthysse match will take place early Sunday morning at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur. ESPN+ will stream it live in the United States on Saturday night as the main event of a two-bout broadcast that’ll begin at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
In the opener of the ESPN+ stream, Filipino southpaw Jhack Tepora (21-0, 16 KOs) will meet Mexico’s Edivaldo Ortega (26-1-1, 12 KOs) in a 12-round, 126-pound championship match for the WBA’s interim featherweight title.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.