Manny Pacquiao's MP Promotions has struggled with organizing the boss' event next month when he challenges Lucas Matthysse for his secondary welterweight world title, but they have the undercard squared away.
MP Promotions has announced that the undercard of the July 15 card (July 14 United States time) at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, will include two world title bouts.
Junior flyweight titlist Carlos Canizales (20-0-1, 16 KOs), 25, of Venezuela, will defend his secondary belt for the first time when he faces 2016 Chinese Olympian Lu Bin (1-0, 1 KOs), 23. If Bin wins the 108-pound belt -- albeit a second-tier title -- in his second professional fight he would break the record for fewest fights needed to win a world title. The record is three, which is held by Vasiliy Lomachenko and Saensak Muangsurim.
In another title bout on the card, former flyweight titlist Moruti Mthalane (35-2, 24 KOs), 35, of South Africa, and Pakistan's Muhammad Waseem (8-0, 6 KOs), 30, will battle for the flyweight belt recently vacated by Donnie Nietes, who decided to move up in weight to seek a title in a fourth weight class. The card will also include a 12-round featherweight fight for a minor belt between Jhack Tepora (21-0, 16 KOs), 25, of the Philippines, and Edivaldo "Indio" Ortega (26-1-1, 12 KOs), 27, a southpaw from Mexico.
MP Promotions has struggled to meet deadlines. Tickets, ranging from $125 to $5,000 for the 16,000-seat venue, only went on sale Thursday and the American television distribution, which is being handled by Pacquiao's longtime promoter Top Rank, is unclear.
Pacquiao wanted the fight to be distributed as an ESPN pay-per-view event, but MP Promotions missed several critical industry deadlines, according to Top Rank. Now the fight could land on either the main ESPN network or the ESPN+ streaming service, though Top Rank still has to work out the financial details of any deal that would move the fight to one of those platforms.
Whatever the issues have been mounting, Filipino icon Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs), 39, boxing's only eight-division world champion, is looking forward to fighting for the first time since he lost his welterweight belt by controversial decision to Jeff Horn last July in Horn's hometown of Brisbane, Australia.
"I am excited. The fans are excited. Malaysia is ready. Let's get on with this fight," said Pacquiao, who fired longtime trainer Freddie Roach for his fight and is being trained by best friend and longtime assistant Buboy Fernandez.
Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs), 35, of Argentina, won the vacant secondary 147-pound belt by eight-round knockout of Tewa Kiram on Jan. 27 and will be making his first defense against Pacquiao.