The Thrill of Victory and The Agony of Defeat: Manny Pacquiao-Keith Thurman
By Hector Franco | Senior Writer and Editor
Published: July 08, 2019
We are now just a few weeks away from one of the most anticipated bouts of the year on July 20 when eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) takes on Keith “One Time” Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs) for WBA Welterweight supremacy.
Pacquiao currently holds the WBA “Regular” Welterweight championship and will be fighting for Thurman’s “Super” version of the WBA Welterweight title in somewhat of a unification bout.
The two men are ten-years apart in age with Pacquiao at 40-years of age compared to Thurman’s 30. The age difference between the two pugilists is small compared to the differences the two men have in experience and level of competition.
Pacquiao’s resume and overall career accomplishments eclipse 99 percent of current active boxers, so it’s no surprise that Thurman’s resume pales in comparison to the Filipino Senator.
Pacquiao has a record of 24-6-2, with 11 knockouts against current or former world champions. Thurman, who hails from Clearwater, Florida, has a record of 7-0, with three knockouts against current or former world champions.
The Filipino Senator also has the advantage of having headlined multiple pay-per-view main events. The fight with Thurman will be Pacquiao’s 21st time-fighting in the city of Las Vegas while it will be just the fifth time for the Florida native.
At the MGM Grand where Pacquiao-Thurman will take place, Pacquiao has fought some of his most significant bouts against the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Erik Morales, Miguel Cotto, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Floyd Mayweather.
In the building, Pacquiao has a record of 9-4-1 with four knockouts. One of Thurman’s best victories took place at the MGM Grand in the nationwide premiere of Premier Boxing Champions in March 2015 when he defeated Robert Guerrero to be elevated to full champion status for the WBA Welterweight title.
Both men are in vastly different chapters of their careers. A win or loss will have a massive impact on the direction their career heads into from this point forward.
Thurman is in a peculiar situation in regards to his current standing in the Welterweight division. Since 2016, Thurman has only fought once a year, and in 2018 he did not fight at all.
The lack in activity was due to various injuries, but nevertheless allowed for other fighters such as Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford to usurp Thurman as the top-rated Welterweight.
Thurman has the best resume in the Welterweight division sans Pacquiao including victories over an undefeated Danny Garcia and a fight of the year candidate against Shawn Porter.
The Floridian power-puncher also has eight title defenses under his belt if you count his interim WBA Welterweight title defenses after he won the title from Diego Chaves in the summer of 2013.
A victory over Pacquiao for Thurman would put him back on the top of the Welterweight landscape. Many will likely still rank Spence and Crawford over him; however, the crown as the king of the Welterweight division cannot be handed to someone who has not fought Thurman.
In some respects, Thurman is in a lose-lose situation. While Pacquiao has shown that he is still a viable threat at Welterweight, he is still 40 years of age with 70 professional fights with a style that is more conducive to being successful at a younger age.
Thurman has made it a point in promoting the fight by stating he will do the same to Pacquiao as Pacquiao did to De La Hoya. In 2008, Pacquiao put on one of the best performances of his career by stopping De La Hoya after eight rounds forcing him to retire on his stool. De La Hoya retired from boxing all together shortly after.
How Thurman defeats Pacquiao will be almost as crucial as coming away with the victory. Should Thurman struggle and win a close and controversial decision, he may not be given much credit for a win.
However, a definitive knockout or a performance that highlights Thurman’s strengths and Pacquiao’s weaknesses, bringing the eight-division champion closer to retirement will be seen as a positive for the Florida fighter.
“Does Manny belong in the ring with a fighter in his prime?” said Thurman in an interview with Mayweather Promotions. “Is Keith Thurman still Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman after some vulnerability against Josesito Lopez?"
“Of course, I’d like to get the knockout or TKO, but either way, you’re going to see a world class performance that has me standing alone on top of a division that has so many great fighters. I’m trying to be that great, devastating champion once again, and come July 20; I will prove that I am.”
A defeat to Pacquiao for Thurman would be a devastating loss that would put him down the totem pole in the Welterweight division.
Fans and pundits alike will come out lamenting that Thurman was always overrated should he lose to Pacquiao.
Given Thurman’s level of activity over the last few years a defeat at the hands of the Filipino Senator could push him to an early retirement. However, at 30 years of age, a loss could reinvigorate Thurman and lead him to make changes in his training.
On the other side of the spectrum, a victory over Thurman for Pacquiao would cement him as still being a force in boxing and a real threat to anyone he steps in the ring against.
The man known as the ‘Pac Man’ would have a win over an undefeated fighter in his prime whom many considered to be the favorite heading into their match. For many fans, the hope is that a victory over Thurman would bring the Filipino to retirement.
The aftermath could be a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. or possible future clashes with some of the other top Welterweights.
After Pacquiao’s bout with Mayweather in 2015, he has faced some solid opposition gaining wins over Timothy Bradley, Jessie Vargas, Lucas Matthysse, Adrien Broner with one controversial loss to Australia’s Jeff Horn in Australia.
One would not call this group of fighter’s murderer’s row, but a good enough appetizer before facing someone like Thurman.
While Thurman has to worry about not only winning but also looking good while doing so, Pacquiao has the luxury of being able to focus solely on winning. The Filipino will have to show his undefeated opponent how to lose and do so forcefully.
One would think that a loss for Pacquiao would bring him to retirement; however, this may only occur if he is brutally knocked out or is defeated in embarrassing fashion.
A loss would undoubtedly keep Pacquiao out of any discussions of fights with the other top Welterweights. However, he could still continue his boxing journey by taking on lower competition.
Boxing has an old adage that states ‘in boxing you don’t get a watch when you retire, you get a beating.’
Pacquiao has avoided the grasp of father time thus far.
On July 20, we will find out if he will age in the same way that Bernard Hopkins or George Foreman did or if he will end up like past contemporaries Roy Jones Jr. or Evander Holyfield as a shell of their former selves.
Pacquiao and Thurman will meet in a classic crossroads bout on July 20. Thurman will have to prove that he is still an elite Welterweight in a loaded division.
Pacquiao will want to prove that he is still at his age a great fighter. Standing in his way will be Thurman and father time.
(Featured Photo: Melina Depante-Asplin for Frontproof Media)