One of the biggest fights of the year graces the MGM Grand Garden Arena with the former eight-division champion Manny ‘Pac Man’ Pacquiao walking out for his 71st professional fight. He takes on the undefeated Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman for his Super WBA welterweight strap but the undefeated lion vows to retire the legend and stake his claim for the best welterweight in the world.
We all know what Pacquiao has achieved in the ring but how does he match up with Keith Thurman? ‘Pac Man’ has all the experience but Thurman has the youth and sits proudly on an undefeated record, making him confident of retiring the legend on 21st July (UK). On paper, Thurman is clearly a huge threat with a bigger stature and efficient knockout power living up to his nickname of ‘One Time’. He is in his physical prime with two inches of height and reach on Pacquiao and although ‘Pac Man’ now has seven losses on his record, that experience is priceless.
Pacquiao suffered three of those seven losses in his last ten fights and that kind of decline is expected considering he is 40 years old, but after his surprising loss to Jeff Horn back in 2017, he bounced back with wins over Lucas Matthysse and Adrien Broner, proving he is still at the elite level after all these years.
Manny Pacquiao vs. Keith Thurman Boxing Pick, Odds, and Predictio
As for Thurman, the important stat here is his activity, or lack of. He has only fought twice in the last three years due to injuries to his elbow and hand and understandably did not look as slick in his return fights against Danny Garcia and Josesito Lopez. Crucially though, he outpointed them to set up the biggest fight of his career so far. His fight with Shawn Porter was one of his most impressive performances as he handed the American his second career loss, but how do the rest of his opponents compare to Pacquiao’s?
Analysing the records of their last 15 opponents at the time in which they fought Pacquiao and Thurman, it is no surprise to see such high win percentages and experience. Pacquiao’s opponents have earned nearly 100 more wins collectively and have a colossal average win percentage of 93%. Although Thurman’s opponents do not quite match up, their win percentage and total wins are also very high and he has passed every test so far with the bookies believing he will also pass this one as they make him the slight favourite.
This scrap is touted as one of the fights of the year, not just because of the names but how close this contest promises to be. Thurman is the favourite, but only just. As Pacquiao has aged, a few cracks have appeared in his game. He does not possess the finishing ability he used to have but his fight IQ is still as good as it gets along with his experience, and this provides a threat to Thurman.
Thurman is incredibly dangerous but after the surgery on his elbow and injury to his hand, it remains to be seen whether he still has that knockout power. Pacquiao’s speed has naturally declined with age and besides his finish against Matthysse before his win over Broner, we hadn’t seen a knockout from ‘Pac Man’ since 2009 (Miguel Cotto).
These stats suggest a decision is most likely. Pacquiao has gone the distance in all but two of his last 15 and Thurman has gone the distance in his last three and averages nearly eight rounds per fight. The higher the quality of match-up in the lower weight classes the more likely a decision is and we expect no different in this battle.
Manny Pacquiao vs Keith Thurman
If the Thurman that beat Porter turns up, we could easily see him overwhelm Pacquiao but he needs to leverage his youth and power. He needs to gain his respect early and his movement will be crucial to unsettling Pacquiao and disrupting his balance but as this is likely to go 12 rounds, he needs to fight intelligently.
Pacquiao has too much class and experience to get caught and if Thurman telegraphs his power punches, ‘Pac Man’ will viciously counter as a southpaw. This stage is likely to bring the best out of Thurman but the deciding factor will be how motivated Pacquiao is.
This is where Thurman’s brash talk and claims of retiring Pacquiao may work against him as it seems to have lit a fire under the senator which is likely to drag him over the line. This is going to be a fiercely contested battle and really could go either way but if Pacquiao wants it bad enough, the win is his. Manny Pacquiao vs Keith Thurman.