LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – Manny Pacquiao, as brilliant as his performance was Saturday night, July 20th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, definitely showed his age against a young and hungry challenger in now former WBA ‘Super’ Welterweight World Champion Keith Thurman.
The 40-year-old fighting senator from Saranggani Province, Philippines showed flashes of youth in scattered moments throughout the 12-round welterweight bout, but looked more like the battle-worn veteran he is as the bout went on.
Thurman, for the most part, stayed true to his word in wanting to stand toe-to-toe with Pacquiao. The American from Clearwater, FL, stayed in front of the Filipino firecracker willing to trade combinations for the majority of the contest. He ate a vicious left to the body and right hook combination that dropped him in round one for his trouble.
It’s definitely true what they say, that you don’t really understand Pacquiao’s speed until you experience it firsthand in the ring. Intelligent fighters though, and in the case of Thurman, are able to make adjustments in order to either survive or come alive. Getting up from the knockdown, Thurman had to dig deep to produce a bit of both.
By the middle rounds, Thurman found a home for his right hand, and snapped Pacquiao’s head back repeatedly. In rounds 6 and 7, Thurman had found his groove and was starting to come on strong. Pacquiao was open to getting hit clean, and at age 40, that’s not something that is wise for him to continue.
Just as Thurman was beginning to put a few rounds in the bank, the tide changed once again in the 10th round, when Pacquiao connected on a hellacious left hook to the body that had Thurman wincing in pain as he got on his bicycle. Round 11 was close and could have gone either way, but Pacquiao was still doing the most damage, despite losing on the stat sheet.
Perhaps Pacquiao already knew he had the win in the bag by round 12, because he really didn’t try to win that round at all.
Official scores came in at 114-113 Thurman, and 155-112 (twice) for Pacquiao. The split decision left a bad taste in the mouth for most, but still, the right man won.
Overall, it was a solid performance for Pacquiao. If there was any doubt lingering if Pacquiao is past his best days, he definitely proved that he may be too old to continue fighting at the top level. A 40-year-old Pacquiao beating a 30-year-old world champion still in his physical prime should be treated as a special occasion. Pacquiao has no business tangling with the top three fighters in his weight class.
What’s next for the “Pacman”?
It appears he’ll continue to fight. Although at this point, no one would blame him for leaving the game. He’s already done enough and has accomplished so much more than anyone in the history of boxing. Truly one of the all time greats, Pacquiao is one of the greats and has nothing left to prove.
Props to Keith Thurman for coming to fight. Taking away the travesty that was the Jeff Horn robbery in 2017, and Pacquiao is on a five-bout win streak.
There are a handful of solid welterweights still competing today. The usual suspects include Terence Crawford, Errol Spence Jr., and Shawn Porter. But Pacquiao would do well to stay away from these top tier talents. Instead, he could go the route of facing Danny Garcia or former training partner Amir Khan next.
Those fights are winnable for Pacquiao and he would no doubt look great in both of them. But to challenge guys like Crawford and Spence would be pushing it.
Nonetheless, it was a great evening for Pacquiao, who is now the unified WBA Welterweight World Champion.