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Manny Pacquiao declares ‘I am back in boxing’ after winning 60th fight

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Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines celebrates after defeating Lucas Matthysse of Argentina.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia >> Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao clinched his 60th victory Sunday with a seventh-round knockout of Argentinian Lucas Matthysse, his first stoppage in nine years, that will help revive his career.

Pacquiao, 39, said his “convincing victory” in the World Boxing Association welterweight title fight, his 12th championship win, showed age isn’t a barrier.

He rebounded from his disappointing loss last year to Australian Jeff Horn and his victory could extend his boxing career that had taken a backseat to his political life as a Filipino senator.

“This is it. I am back in boxing,” Pacquiao said. “I am not done. I’m still there.”

“It’s just a matter of time. You have to rest and get it back and that’s what I did.”

He said training with new coach Buboy Fernandes, after parting ways with longtime trainer Freddie Roach in the lead up to the fight, was effective and that he felt in control from the start.

“At the beginning of round one, I had in my mind that I could control the fight but our strategy is to be patient, to take time, don’t rush, don’t be careless like we did before,” he said.

His aggression knocked Matthysse down on one knee in the third and fifth rounds. A third knock down in the seventh round led Matthysse to spit out his mouthpiece, causing a frenzy among Pacquiao fans in the stadium.

“I am not boasting but…I think he’s hurting from my punches. Every punch that I throw, he’s hurt. I think he’s scared of my punches,” Pacquiao said.

Matthysse, who won 36 out of 39 matches by knockout, hailed Pacquiao as a “great fighter, a great legend” and said he will take a break after his loss.

“This is part of boxing. You win some, you lose some,” he said.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad also attended the fight, the biggest boxing match in the country since the 1975 heavyweight clash between Muhammad Ali and Australian Joe Bugner.

“I would like to congratulate Senator Manny Pacquiao for giving us pride and bringing the Filipino nation together once more,” said Duterte, who flew to Malaysia earlier for the bout ahead of an official visit.

Duterte said in a statement that Pacquiao has proven himself again as “one of the greatest boxers of all time” and that the win will cement his legacy in the sport.

Scores of screaming Filipino fans in the stadium waved flags and chanted “Manny Manny” throughout the match. Pacquiao’s rise to fame from an impoverished rural boy to one of the world’s wealthiest sportsmen over his 23-year career has made him a national hero.

Pacquaio said he will return to his senator work for now but won’t be hanging up the gloves just yet.

“I am addicted to boxing. I really love to fight and bring honor to my country. That’s my heart’s desire,” he added.

In the other title fights, Filipino Jhack Tepora defeated Edivaldo Oretga of Mexico with a knockout to win the interim WBA featherweight title. Venezuela’s Carlos Canizales defended his WBA world light flyweight title against China’s Lu Bin, stopping him from making history by becoming the first boxer to win a major world title in just two career fights. South African Moruti Mthalane won a close twelve round unanimous decision over Pakistan’s Muhammad Waseem to capture the IBF flyweight title.

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