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Manny Pacquiao hasn’t committed to Freddie Roach, but says fight with Lucas Matthysse is ‘on’

The effort to bring Manny Pacquiao back to the boxing ring one year after his controversial loss in Australia was described Monday by Pacquiao as “on,” and by Oscar De La Hoya as “signed, sealed and delivered.”

Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 knockouts) and De La Hoya tweeted that the former seven-division champion will fight new World Boxing Assn. secondary welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse of Argentina in Kuala, Lumpur, Malaysia on July 14 (U.S. time).

De La Hoya promotes Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs), but Pacquiao manager Michael Koncz told the Los Angeles Times that Pacquiao’s MP Promotions will be the bout’s lead promoter.

Golden Boy President Eric Gomez told The Times in a Monday night text message that ESPN will televise the bout, and a representative of Pacquiao’s longtime promoter, Top Rank, said it will be ESPN’s first pay-per-view since the cable network and Top Rank struck their new television deal last year.

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While July 14 is the preferred date, it’s also possible to place it on July 21 U.S. time. The date is expected to be finalized after a discussion with DirecTV representatives on Tuesday, an official said.

ESPN televised Pacquiao’s disputed loss to new World Boxing Organization welterweight champion Jeff Horn on July 2, an outcome that brought great criticism of the judging in Horn’s home country.

The intrigue is whether Pacquiao will retain his longtime trainer Freddie Roach, or shift to best friend Buboy Fernandez as lead cornerman.

Roach has been in Pacquiao’s corner since 2001, directing victories over Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez and Marco Antonio Barrera.

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“Manny will make the final decision on this. He’s contemplating letting Buboy shine at the finish of his career,” Koncz said. “If Buboy can get a stable of boxers out of this … no hard feelings to Freddie, but Manny has not made a final decision.”

Is changing from the seven-time trainer of the year for Fernandez wise?

“Yeah, congratulations [on the awards]. Freddie had a great run and they did a lot of great things together, but that does not mean that Manny can’t go on without Freddie.

“Manny learned a lot from Freddie, but he’s at the stage where he’s going to be ending his career, and I truly believe this: A fighter must only have one voice in the corner and it must be a voice he can trust.”

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A decision on Roach is expected within a few days, Koncz said.

Koncz said if Pacquiao can defeat former 140-pound title challenger Matthysse, who claimed his belt in January at the Forum, he “has his eye on [Vasyl] Lomachenko in the fall,” for a 140-pound fight.

Koncz dismissed information given to The Times from an official familiar with the deal but unauthorized to speak publicly on the matter, contending “a significant deposit” is still required to bring the bout to Malaysia.

“I don’t know these Malaysian guys, and I don’t know if their money is real,” said the official, adding the deadline for delivery of that cash advance is next week.

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Said Koncz: “The fight will be in Malaysia.”


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