Big Fight Preview & Prediction: Pacquiao vs Thurman
Amir Khan wants Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather is the fighter Pacquiao wants, but before the talk turns to who is potentially next, the present needs dealing with.
Keith Thurman the talented but in recent times largely absent welterweight is the fighter who might very well ruin whatever plans are indeed next. It’s a vitally important fight for Thurman, once considered the elite of his division, two other Americans now lay claim for that honour.
Pacquiao after a worrying loss to Jeff Horn in 2017, has rebounded with two subsequent wins over Lucas Matthysse and Adrien Broner, but did those wins flatter to deceive.
Matthysse was a shadow of the fighter he once was, Broner is fighting for relevance, a battle he is unlikely to win. Pacquiao now 40 looked reborn, but in truth what did he really beat.
On paper, Thurman looks to be an altogether different proposition but in his much-anticipated comeback fight, Thurman struggled at times with Josesito Lopez. Thurman started well and looked better than ever, but I thought he faded down the stretch, it looked a tougher fight than it should have been.
But after nearly two years out Thurman deserves a pass, it’s reasonable to expect a much better version in Las Vegas.
Despite still being a world-class fighter, Pacquiao (61-7-2) isn’t quite the fighter he was, which at 40 is more than understandable.
Thurman (29-0) is 10 years younger than the legendary Filipino and if the injuries haven’t wiped away his prime, he should be at his physical peak. The miles on the clock I believe will be the difference, Thurman will just be too fresh for this version of Pacquiao.
A fighter is the first to know he should retire, but usually, the last to accept it. Win or lose against Thurman, Pacquiao will fight on. A victory against Thurman, could mean fights with Errol Spence Jr or Terrence Crawford, the two widely accepted best welterweights on the planet, he might even tempt Mayweather into yet another return. If he should lose, Khan might finally get Pacquiao to share a ring with him. Either way the phone will still ring, how he looks against Thurman, should tell us if Pacquiao should answer.
Perhaps surprisingly Pacquiao will start the fight the betting favourite, people have clearly been influenced by how good Pacquiao has looked in his last two fights and how Thurman looked on his return.
The fight and performance with Horn was a big concern to me, and while it rarely is that simple, but if Horn can beat Pacquiao I think Thurman most definitely can, and I believe he will.
Broner and Matthysse were at the stages of their career and had the style which suited Pacquiao, but Thurman won’t let Pacquiao get into the rhythm he needs to win.
I expect Thurman to start fast, and build up an early lead that Pacquiao won’t be able to close. Thurman won’t stop Pacquiao, and he certainly won’t have it all his own way, but a 116-112 scoreline is how I see it ending.