Saturday Boxing Showcase

At age 40 Pacquiao still has the goods to beat Thurman

Photo illustration courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions.

Manny Pacquiao is a shell of his former fighting self. Now 40 years old, gone is phenom who won world titles in a record eight weight classes. Gone is the thunderous left hand that led him to knockout victories over the likes of Ricky Hatton, Erik Morales and Miguel Cotto. Gone is the transcendent star, who became a household name not just in the boxing world, but in the general public. But instead of focusing on what's gone, let's talk about what's still there. At age 40 Pacquiao is still an overwhelmingly skilled pressure fighter. He's quick, intelligent and relentless. Despite all he's lost, what Pacquaio (61-7-2, 39 KO) has left is still more than enough to beat Keith Thurman Saturday night.

Thurman (29-0, 22 KO,) who will take the ring opposite Pacquiao at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, has never lost a fight in his professional career. He's a tremendous technician who has beaten a who's who of PBC welterweights throughout his 12-year run in the division. But despite being a decade younger, we can't talk about what Pacquiao has lost without having the same conversation about Thurman. Following an uninspiring victory over Danny Garcia in 2017, Thurman had elbow surgery. The injury kept him out of the ring for nearly two years, just returning this January to beat journeyman Josesito Lopez in another lackluster performance.

Thurman has also shown an erosion of power. Originally nicknamed "One Time" for his ability to score one-punch knockouts, Thurman hasn't recorded a knockout since a 2013 victory over Jesus Soto Karass. Sarcastic boxing fans and opponents have joked that now "One Time" is a reference to how many times a year Thurman usually fights.

Thurman's resume also pales in comparison to Pacquiao. Pacquiao has taken down multiple hall of famers en route to what will ultimately be a first ballot hall of fame career. With victories of the likes of Cotto, Marquez, Bradley, Mosley, Hatton and Marquez it's not an exaggeration to say you can count on both hands the number of fighters Pacquiao has beaten that are better than Thurman. On the other hand, Thurman has never faced the best at 147 pounds. He never got a crack at Floyd Mayweather, avoided Errol Spence, and boxing politics have prevented a Terence Crawford fight. Thurman's victories over Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter both qualify as "nice" but stop miles short of career defining.

Manny Pacquaio has had quite a career in the boxing ring, and may only have a few fights left. He's not the fighter he used to be, but what's left is a top-5 welterweight with superior hand speed, timing and movement. Is that enough to beat Keith Thurman on Saturday night? We will know soon.

TIM'S PREDICTION

Pacquiao by unanimous decision.

UNDERCARD REPORT

The televised card starts with a showcase fight for Sergey Lipinets (15-1, 11 KO) against John Molina Jr. (30-8, 24 KO.) Molina's skills have long eroded and this should be an excellent chance for Lipinets to score a knockout in an exciting slugfest.

Fight two pits Yordenis Ugas against former prospect Omar Figueroa. Ugas (23-4, 11 KO) is fresh of a controversial loss to Shawn Porter in a fight many observers thought should have gone his way. Figueora (28-0-1, 19 KO) has battled injuries, distractions and problems making weight, but is still tremendous power puncher.

The co-feature pits super-middleweight titleist Caleb Plant (18-0, 10 KO) in what should be a showcase fight over Mike Lee (21-0, 11 KO,) who is taking a big step up in competition.

PAY PER VIEW DETAILS

The fight will be distributed via Fox Pay-Per-View for a price of $74.99. Cord cutters can stream the action on FoxSports.com for the same price.

SportsMap Weekend Boxing Rewind

Manny proves age is just a number

Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions.

Manny Pacquaio outworked, outsmarted and outslugged Keith Thurman on Saturday night in Las Vegas to claim the WBA Welterweight Super Title and re-announce his presence to the rest of the division. Pacquiao looked like his old self, especially early in the fight, to win a clear but competitive decision over Thurman, who entered the ring ten years Pacquiao's younger. Ringside judges scored the fight 114-113 for Thurman and 115-112 (twice) for Pacquiao. SportsMap.com also scored the bout 115-112 in favor of Pacquiao.

Pacquiao, who now splits his time between boxing and senatorial duties in the Philippines, looked like vintage Manny in the early going, landing a right hook near the end of the first round that sent Thurman sprawling to the canvas. Thurman was up quickly and didn't appear to be badly hurt by the knockdown. Pacquiao continued the quick start by landing the harder, more damaging punches throughout the first half of the fight. Pacquiao routinely initiated the action by pressuring Thurman with flurries of combinations. The knockdown, paired with Pacquiao's early success gave him an advantage on the scorecards he would never relinquish.

Thurman began to feel Pacquiao out as the fight moved into the middle rounds, timing Pacquiao's volume combinations with well placed counters. While Thurman snapped Pacquiao's head back at times, he never rose beyond competitive and never seemed to take the fight back over from Pacquiao, who laid claim to it following the knockdown.

If there was any doubt the 40 year old could finish off the victory, it was removed in round ten, when Pacquiao badly hurt Thurman with a body shot. The blow left Thurman covering up to the body and leaving his head vulnerable to combinations for the remainder of the round. Thurman bounced back with a nice round 11 but the damage was done. Entering the final stanza Thurman needed a knockout. But once again it was Pacquiao who landed the heavier work.

Thurman was gracious in defeat, saying he felt the fight was close but acknowledged that he had lost. It was the first defeat in Thurman's career. He expressed interest in making a rematch.

By winning Pacquiao once again has claim to being a top-3 welterweight in the world, along with PBC stablemate Errol Spence as well as Terence Crawford. A unification bout with Spence, the IBF welterweight champion, would be easy to make. However it won't be made in the immediate future. Spence is set to fight WBC welterweight champion Shawn Porter in September. Spence would be a heavy favorite over Pacquiao. Because of this fact, paired with Pacquiao's marketability, a fight between the two would likely only be made it what would be Pacquiao's last fight. After Saturday's performance Pacquiao's career doesn't appear to be anywhere close to finish, so I would expect Manny to be back in the ring in the fall against the mandatory challenger for his WBA title.

UGAS DOMINATES FIGUEROA

On the undercard Cuban national Yordenis Ugas has no trouble defeating Omar Figueroa, winning a unanimous decision by scores of 119-107 (three times.) SportsMap.com also scored the fight 119-107 for Ugas.

Ugas won every minute of every round, beating Figueroa at his own game. Figueroa, content to fight on the inside, was a step behind the quicker, more technically skilled Ugas. He was repeatedly countered with uppercuts up the middle, and never made any adjustments that led observers to believe Figueroa could solve Ugas. The fight makes Ugas the mandatory challenger for the WBC welterweight title. Ugas fought Porter for the WBC title earlier in the year and lost a controversial decision.

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