By: Dennis “dSource” Guillermo
Las Vegas – Manny Pacquiao’s legend continues to grow with his latest conquest of the previously unbeaten Keith Thurman.
Boxing’s only eight-division world champion, Pacquiao (62-7-2) at 40, not only gave Thurman (29-1) the first loss of his career and clutched the WBA welterweight “super” championship title away from the much younger Floridian, he also proved that true legends overcome age.
As impressive as the feat in itself is, to further put things in perspective, Pacquiao was once dubbed “The Mexicutioner” when he first burst in the US boxing scene and started collecting the scalps of legendary Mexican champions like Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez and even Oscar Dela Hoya. While naysayers say he caught them at the tailend of their career and that they were “washed up”, now Pacquiao is still willing to face anyone and is going through PBC’s roster of young welterweight champions at an even older age when supposedly those Mexican legends were old and over the hill.
Ruminate and let that marinate for a second.
Thurman was a unified and the longest-reigning welterweight champ. The man is 10 years his junior and vowed to retire Pacquiao from the get-go. But what the sold-out crowd of 14,356 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena witnessed was the legend teaching the undefeated young lion a lesson from the beginning and put his trunks on the canvas with his signature whirlwind hand speed and power. All Thurman could do was smile in appreciation as he dusted off his shorts.
We can talk about how Pacquiao started fading after the first six rounds and that father time may have started creeping in, but that in itself even makes this accomplishment more impressive. Yes, I agree Pacquiao showed signs of fatigue after the first half of the fight, but his dedication to his training and health helped him overcome even when the younger Thurman caught his second wind and started hitting him with clean, hard shots.
There’s a reason why even the great Floyd Mayweather decided to handpick his opponents during the last leg of his career and has stayed retired. Even for legends, it’s not easy to keep doing this at 40. And Pacquiao just keeps taking on undefeated champions like he’s the one trying to make a name for himself. That’s crazy!
As much as boxing fans complain about how the sport doesn’t deliver and how promoters killed the game with their greed and agendas, Pacquiao is a refreshing throwback warrior who deserves all the praise, adulation and appreciation he gets from his fans and savants of the sweet science.
There will never be another Manny Pacquiao, so enjoy him thoroughly before he’s completely gone, because at some point, even if he’s still willing to keep taking all these challenges, fight on and refuse to hang-up his gloves, the game will eventually retire him quicker than any of his lighting combinations.
“My ability to fight, this is not my own. God gave me this ability to continue my career for a purpose and I believe my purpose is to inspire the fans and the people of boxing, to be a role model as a follower of God and a follower of Jesus Christ,” Pacquiao said at the post-fight press conference in addressing concerns about his future health and retirement. I’m sure he accomplished that and inspired millions once again after the Thurman fight.
But for the sake of the sport of boxing, here’s hoping he at least inspires more boxing superstars to be more like him and give the fans what they want. Because at 40, he’s still one of the brightest superstars and the biggest draws of a sport that’s dimming.