There was a time when Manny Pacquiao would be walking into a fight against a boxer of Keith Thurman’s quality as a comfortable favorite. On Saturday, age dictates that he will be walking in as the slight underdog. Even so, he still has the right to harbor hopes that he can still use his usual tricks effectively, even if his speed has long since peaked.
Pac Is Back
Pacquiao’s loss to Jeff Horn back in July 2017 marked the seventh defeat in his career, and naturally, there were plenty of calls for the Filipino fighter to hang up his gloves. After impressive wins against Lucas Matthysse and Adrien Broner, those calls for retirement have faded away, and he is still going to be able to come forward in that aggressive southpaw style.
The Filipino’s low center of gravity cannot fail to help him swarm Thurman, who will find himself facing an opponent like no other come fight night. Victory over Pacquiao – as it would for anyone – would put Thurman one step close to the Hall of Fame, but injuries have severely hindered his progress.
As a result of his numerous setbacks, Thurman has not fought a top level opponent since beating Danny Garcia in March 2017, and with a mere MD win over certified ‘tomato can’ Josesito Lopez earlier this year, the ring-rust is undoubtedly his greatest bar to victory. Though this could well be Pacquiao’s last professional fight, ‘Pac-Man’ remains cunning and experienced enough to take full advantage of his opponent’s poor fortune.
Who Has The Advantage?
Thurman is the one holding all of the cards when it comes to the physical statistics, and with Pacquiao now 40 years old, everyone will be looking for the first tangible signs of time’s destructive powers. Yet, while Pacquiao is clearly past his prime, he has shown in his last two fights that he still has reflexes and stamina to shame many fighters that are currently in their late twenties.
Thurman also holds the advantage in height and reach, standing 2 inches taller than the 5’5 1/2” Pacquiao. The reach advantage is also two inches, with Thurman at 69” and his opponent at 67”. It could also be said that Thurman has the power advantage too, with his KO percentage at a much-superior 73% when compared to the 56% of Pacquiao.
What Pacquiao does have though, is that immense boxing talent, not to mention the backing of the more romanticist neutrals.
How Will The Fight Go?
The beauty of this fight is that it could easily go either way. Both fighters have legitimate reason to believe they can win the fight. In the case of the younger Thurman, he will be expected to control the pace of the fight.
Pacquiao has often made his opponents dance to his own tune, and ultimately, controlling the ring will be difficult.
The renowned power that Thurman once possessed could well still be there too, but it hasn’t properly been tested since his successive elbow and hand injuries. If Thurman can’t knock his foe out, then he’ll be hoping to take advantage of Pacquiao’s declining speed to outpoint him.
Pacquiao, meanwhile, is now fuelled mostly by his brilliant boxing IQ, which has seen him win many contests over the years. He doesn’t quite have the same finishing ability, but can still punch in heavy combinations. The experience that he has should also hold him in good stead, especially when it comes to the defensive aspect of his game and ring generalship.
Who Will Come Out On Top?
In the combatants’ last ten respective fights, Pacquiao has only won by TKO 10% of the time and Thurman has won by that method 40% of the time. It indicates that this will probably be a points win, with any KO most likely coming from Thurman.
Ultimately, if any fighter comes in rusty, the other could well take advantage. It certainly has the ingredients necessary for a tantalizing fight, and one that is very hard to call. Both fighters could win by any method, and if they both show up in their best form, the world should be able to witness an epic, close-fought bout.
Verdict: Thurman via MD