Filipino veteran Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) used speed and aggressiveness to nullify the youth of Keith Thurman (29-1-0, 22 KOs) and take an exciting split-decision victory at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
With retired Floyd Mayweather Jr. watching ringside, Pacquiao, 40, started fast, with the 30 year old Thurman trying to keep up. After some good back and forth action, Pacquiao caught Thurman backing up with a straight right hand late in the first round to the surprise of many. To the credit of Thurman, who was making his sixth title defence, he quickly got off the floor to ease the concern of referee Kenny Bayless and continued.
It was the inability of Thurman to establish his jab that allowed to Pacquiao to be aggressive and keep him on the defensive for large spurts of the early and championship rounds. He did have some good moments in the middle rounds, scoring with the quick right hand but could not follow it up with combinations often enough.
Thurman was returning after a 22 month layoff to recover from various hand and elbow injuries, finally got to a fatigued Pacquiao in the fifth round, landing good power shots to the body. But Pacquiao fired back at the end to bloody the nose of “One Time.”
The judges scored it 113-114, 115-112, 115-112 for Pacquiao.
With the win, Pacquiao unified the WBA welterweight belt and becomes the WBA super welterweight champion.
— Amir Khan (@amirkingkhan) July 21, 2019
“It was fun,” Pacquiao said in the post-fight press conference. “My opponent is a good fighter and boxer. He was strong. Even though Thurman lost, he did his best. He’s not an easy opponent. He’s a good boxer, and he’s strong. I was just blessed tonight.”
“I knew it was too close,” a somber Thurman said afterwards. “He got the knockdown, so he had momentum in Round 1. I wish I had a little bit more output to go toe to toe. I felt like he was getting a little bit tired, but he did have experience in the ring. My conditioning, my output, was just behind Manny Pacquiao. It was a great night of boxing. I’d love a rematch.”
“You get blessings and lessons. Tonight was a blessing and a lesson,” Thurman acknowledged. “Thank you everybody, and thank you Manny Pacquiao.”
I’ve always said I’m not afraid to let my 0 go, if you can beat me — beat me. @MannyPacquiao beat me tonight. Hats off to the Senator on a great performance. #OneTime #PacThurman pic.twitter.com/piX4A6lUOA
— Keith Thurman Jr. (@keithfthurmanjr) July 21, 2019
In the post-fight interview, Pacquiao said he hoped to fight next year. He could fight the winner of the IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence and WBC welterweight champ Shawn Porter unification bout, which takes place September 28, a fight he said he hopes to attend.
Those claims were refuted by Pacquiao’s publicist.
In any case, Pacquiao is now in the drivers seat. Whoever he faces next, will likely still be a hot ticket for boxing fans.