By Benjamin V Smith @thepugilistnet
“My prediction?” he asked boldly during a pre-fight presser. “Less than six rounds. This is the prophecy according to Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman as he puts his 29-0 record on the line against the legendary, former eight-division champion Manny ‘Pac Man’ Pacquiao at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas this Saturday 20th July.
The undefeated 30-year-old vows to retire the Filipino icon and stake his claim as the best welterweight in the world, and on the surface of things, you would have difficulty in denying him. After all, Pacquiao is 40 years of age. He has shown signs of an obvious decline. He has lost three of his last ten, with only one knockout in his last fifteen.
Whilst Thurman remains undefeated, ten years younger and has a two-inch height and reach advantage. However, for those who are paying attention, the important stat here is his activity, or lack of. Only fighting twice in the last three years due to elbow and hand injuries, Thurman looked less than convincing in his last outing against Josesito Lopez, a fight in which Lopez was put down in round two but fought back to give Thurman a serious scare in round seven.
The deciding factor will be how motivated each fighter is. On song, Pacquiao still remains a boxing virtuoso who should have too much class to get caught by Thurman’s monstrous left hook. And although he may not possess the finishing ability of his halcyon days, Manny’s heightened fight IQ and ring generalship is still as good as it gets. However, if he’s had one too many late-night Karaoke sessions and a beady eye on a potential Saudi Arabian payday with Amir Khan as his dance partner, he’ll undoubtedly come up short.
The Proverbial Ghost at the Feast
If this intriguing contest was a comparison of resumes, then the Senator wins by a country mile. The future hall of famer has won world titles from junior lightweight all the way up to Junior Middleweight. Whilst Keith ‘what have you done for me lately’ Thurman went from being welterweight royalty to the proverbial ghost at the feast. Lingering out of the public’s consciousness. However, retiring a boxing immortal, is one hell of a statement of intent to his mutinous 147-pound usurpers.
Another thing to consider is the following – was Manny Pacquiao great in his last outing or was Adrien Broner bad? On the night Pacquiao was simply too fast, too robust and ultimately too savvy for Broner, who’s misapprehension predictability outweighed his hubris. Pacquiao successfully defended his WBA (Regular) welterweight title against Broner via unanimous decision and never seemed troubled throughout the fight. Whether this was a return to his boxing sorcery or a form of classic misdirection remains undecided. We shall peer behind the wizards curtain this weekend.
If a boxer is only as good as his last fight, then it would be Manny that has the upper hand, but Thurman is younger, stronger and bigger, and if he lets his hands go, he’ll surely walk out of the MGM Grand with both WBA (Regular and Super) welterweight straps. However, it is perfectly normal to experience misty-eyed nostalgia when recollecting the Filipino force of nature rampaging through weight divisions circa 2008 to 2012.
So where does this leave us? A quick peruse over both fighters last ten contests would suggest that it is highly likely that this will go the distance. If that is the case, I would suggest that the Lopez wobble was down to ring-rust and that Keith Thurman will have his glove triumphantly raised aloft at the final bell, but I certainly wouldn’t bet money against a man who not only carries the weight of an entire country on his shoulders, but everyone who has been told they are “past it”.
And let’s face it, that’s pretty much all of us.
By Lewis Calvert @BigWriteHook
I personally rate Keith Thurman very highly. After beating Shawn Porter then unifying against Danny Garcia, he was a top 5 pound-for-pound fighter in my eyes. Unfortunately, his two year lay-off means he has lost that momentum and currently lacks the sharpness an active fighter has.
That said, Manny Pacquiao is not the same fighter he was 10 years ago. He is much slower at 40 years old and I expect age to play a factor – that is unless PED’s do. With no VADA testing for this fight, it does raise suspicions of something untoward; however, I would like to give Manny the benefit of the doubt.
I suspect Thurman will be too smart for his own good, he has the ability to KO Pac Man if he attacks when his moments arise, but I believe One Time will show the same caution he did in the two aforementioned fights and instead choose to box, winning round after round. For me, it goes to the judges and Pacquiao wins in a robbery because he brings in more money. That’s boxing.