Last night we witnessed a fight for the ages. Two lions in the welterweight division slugging it out to determine who would take his perch amongst the three titleholders at 147 pounds. We saw a 40 year old legend in Manny ‘PacMan’ Pacquaio (62-7-2, 39 KOs) take on a much younger undefeated Keith ‘One-Time’ Thurman (29-1, 22KOs) in his prime for Thurman’s WBA (Super) Welterweight Title. A lot of fans questioned if Keith could figure out an awkward fighter like Manny Pacquiao, while others questioned if PacMan still had it in him to beat a much younger fighter. All our questions were answered.
From the opening bell while most fighters typically start a bit slower to feel each other out. However, Pacquiao and Thurman had a bit of a different energy in the early rounds, as both looked to earn their respect. It was Pacquaio’s speed and awkwardness that gave him the edge as he dropped Keith Thurman in the opening round with a two-punch combination on an angle that happens to confuse everyone. From that point on, Manny earned his respect from Thurman, as Thurman seemed cautious from that point on in the fight. He got a feel for Manny’s power and knew that he had to respect it.
Manny controlled most of the opening rounds by keeping Thurman in a shell and finding multiple counters that Thurman just could not see coming. Thurman had his moments as his straight right hand was very accurate, but he could not seem to let it go as much, because he was confused and a bit frustrated not knowing Pacquaio’s next move.
The middle rounds were much better for Keith Thurman as he seemed to back Manny up more and find openings for his power shots. At times, Thurman mixed up some combinations very well by going at PacMan’s body while on the inside and letting off his power shots at a distance as Manny tried to stay at a distance. The biggest problem for Thurman, bedsides being hesitant, was that he was not be consistent from round to round. He would start the round by landing big, but and as time went on he got baited into trying to either exchange with the legend and/or outsmarted by Pacquiao.
It was in Round 10 where Pacquaio landed a big liver shot that had Keith hurt badly, causing him to run a bit more. It appeared as if Thurman was prepared to take a knee until it dawned on him that he was down on the scorecards. The foot speed, hand speed, power, awkward combinations, and accurate counters were just too much for Keith as he got taught a lesson from a much more experienced veteran in Manny Pacquaio. Ultimately, Manny claimed the WBA (Super) Welterweight Title by split decision – 115-112, 115-112, 113-114.
So, what’s next for both fighters? Does Manny retire after a great win? Or does he try to unify and fight other prime fighters in the welterweight division? He has plenty of options. As for Keith Thurman, he has to climb his way back up to another title shot but with him still being a top welterweight, it should not be that hard or that long for him as this loss may have reignited his hunger.