by Nick Giongco
KUALA LUMPUR – While it is not as extensive as its head-to-head showdown with Mexico, the Philippines also has a storied rivalry with Argentina with no less than Lucas Matthysse out to peg it at 5-5 when he faces Manny Pacquiao this Sunday at the Axiata Arena.
“I will bring the title back to Argentina,” vowed Matthysse after Wednesday’s brief open workout at a makeshift gym at the Le Meridien Hotel.
Matthysse is making the first defense of the World Boxing Association welterweight crown and a victory over the Filipino legend will enable Argentina to catch up with the Philippines.
This Sunday’s showdown will mark the eleventh time a Filipino and an Argentine will face each other for a world title stretching back to the 1950s.
The Philippines has a 5-4-1 record against Argentina.
The Filipino winners were Flash Elorde (against Vicente Derado in 1966), Luisito Espinosa (vs Carlos Rios in 1997), Nonito Donaire (vs Omar Narvaez in 2011), Johnreil Casimero (vs Luis Lazarte in 2012) and Donnie Nietes (vs Juan Carlos Reveco in 2018).
The Argentine victors include Pascual Perez (vs Leo Espinosa in 1956 and Dommy Ursua in 1958), Juan Martin Coggi (vs Morris East in 1993) and Julio Cesar Vazquez (vs Armand Picar in 1994).
The lone draw was between Ben Villaflor against Victor Echegaray in the 1970s.
Told about the Philippines’ slight edge, Matthysse just shrugged and he insisted he doesn’t think much of the Philippines’ advantage.
“But I am going to be 1-0 (in this fight),” said the hard-hitting South American, who hardly flexed his muscles in the training sessions that lasted less than an hour.
Carlos Irusta, Argentina’s premier fight scribe said that “a victory by Matthysse over Pacquiao will make him the country’s No. 1 fighter.”
With Argentina out of the running in the World Cup, the focus has shifted to Matthysse’s defense against Pacquiao, who Irusta stressed is not washed up.
“A warrior is always a warrior,” said Irusta, noting that even at Pacquiao’s age (almost 40), he remains a livewire foe.
The official press conference will be held Thursday with US boxing great Oscar De La Hoya in attendance.
Tags: Argentina, Carlos Irusta, Carlos Rios, Donnie Nietes, Flash Elorde, Juan Carlos Reveco, Juan Martin Coggi, Julio Cesar Vazquez, Lucas Matthysse, Luisito Espinosa, Manny Pacquiao, Nonito Donaire, Omar Narvaez, Philippines, World Boxing Association