By: Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
In the last press conference arranged and promoted by PBC on FOX on July 17, 2019, Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao and Keith “One Time” Thurman answered all hanging questions before heading into their WBA Super Welterweight Championship on July 21, 2019 (PHL time) at MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada.
With all the criticisms thrown at Pacquiao, especially regarding his age, the fighting senator told a FOX interviewer that “In our job as a fighter, you have to prove everything. The big question mark in the mind of the fans, especially at the age of 40.”
Pacquiao was his usual poker face as he threw predictable rebuttals to the smack talking Thurman.
When asked if Thurman’s trash talking is a personal attack, he replied: “For me nothing is personal, I have to do my job. I don’t have nothing personal with him in our job as a fighter.”
Analysts and boxing legends also pitched in their views of the Pacquiao-Thurman match.
Veteran boxing journalist Norm Frauenheim of the LA Times believes that the 40-year old Pacquiao still has the speed to stifle the defending champion.
“I’m not sure if Thurman has ever seen this kind of speed and he’s going to be able to dart in dart out, and they’ve been smart this time about making sure that he doesn’t overtrain because that will save his legs for the full 12 rounds,” he shared with ABS-CBN’s Steve Angeles, “I think it’s going to go to the score cards.”
The Ring Magazine’s Cynthia Conte also believes the eight-division champion won’t only be beating Thurman, but also Father Time.
“I don’t care about age. Based on what I see, he’s still strong, he’s turning back the clock,” she stated. “Keith Thurman, he’s young, he’s hungry, I don’t think it’s Keith Thurman’s time just yet.”
WWE Hall of Famer-turned-ESPN Radio Anchor Booker “Booker T” Huffman, meanwhile, sits on the other end of the spectrum as he believes Thurman will show that Manny is no longer the fighter that he once was.
“Manny Pacquiao’s skills, they’ve diminished very very slowly but I think in this fight with Keith Thurman, I think they’re going to catch up with him,” Booker T explained. “[Thurman] is the future of boxing of today, if Manny Pacquiao caught him ten years ago it might have been a different story.”
Reigning WBC Welterweight World Champion “Showtime” Shawn Porter knows both Pacquiao and Thurman well, having been a sparring partner for the Pinoy legend before, and having lost to Thurman back in 2016.
The reigning WBC king, who has a date with Errol Spence Jr. on the horizon, says that it can go Thurman’s way early, or Pacquiao’s way if it goes the distance.
This fight could play out in so many different ways. Personally, I see three or four ways that this fight could play out,” Porter explained. “I know what Keith is gonna do, Keith is gonna try to come out early, he’s gonna try to get Manny. If he doesn’t touch Manny the way he wants to touch him early on, he’s gonna lay back, he’s gonna try to box, he’s gonna try to box his way to a victory.”
“I think the problem with that is, Manny has a high work rate. Manny knows what he wants to see and he takes it when he sees it. I think if Keith doesn’t get him early, Manny wins a late decision,” he continued.
Former IBF, WBA and WBC Light Middleweight World Champion Winky Wright is going with Thurman all the way. The 47-year old boxing legend has served as somewhat a mentor to the undefeated Thurman, and the two have trained together in Florida.
“Everybody knows I’m going for Keith Thurman. Thurman by knockout or Thurman by decision. I think he’s going to come out, he’s going to make Manny respect his speed and his power,” said Wright.
While Porter appears to see it going either way and Wright is fully on Team Thurman, a pair of Pacquiao’s former Mexican rivals sees it going the Filipino boxing icon’s way.
Four-division world champion and three-time Pacquiao foe Erik “El Terrible” Morales is all in on Pacman for this fight.
“It’s going to be a complicated fight, no doubt about it. Knowing Pacquiao, starting in the second round, that’s when he’s gonna be starting to charge, so it’s going to be decision for Pacquiao, or maybe a knockout late for Pacquiao,” Morales said through a translator.
From 2005 to 2006, Morales and Pacquiao formed a rivalry as they faced off three times, with Pacquiao taking the W twice.
Three-division world champion Marco Antonio Barrera crossed paths with Manny Pacquiao in 2003 and in 2007, coming up short on both occassions. The man known as “The Baby-Faced Assassin” believes that Thurman is headed for the same fate.
“I think Manny Pacquiao by decision, but we always have to take into account the plan that Thurman has, it could play a part, but Manny Pacquiao by decision.” (With a report from ABS-CBN Sports)