Sports

Manny Pacquiao to meet Keith Thurman for welterweight title

At first glance, Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao, the only eight-division world champion, would have a clear advantage over champion Keith “One Time” Thurman who is younger and hungrier.  

Time will tell when the warriors clash in a scheduled 12-round welterweight championship bout July 20 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Freddie Roach, a seven-time Trainer of the Year and Pacquiao’s co-trainer, made a simple declaration to Thurman at a recent press conference held at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills.

“We will destroy you,” Roach said.

Thurman’s quick-witted response to Pacquiao was, “I will retire you.”

The tale of tape shows that Thurman, 30, has two obvious advantages: height and age, against Pacquiao, 40, who does not fit the physical strength profile of the average middle-age man. Pacquiao’s record of 61 wins outweighs Thurman’s 29 wins. This will be Pacquiao’s 71st professional fight.

“Keith Thurman is aggressive and throws a lot of punches. I’m hoping on July 20 he will follow through with what he says and fight toe-to-toe with me,” Pacquiao said. “Most of my opponents are bigger than me and I beat them all. When we get into the ring, it doesn’t matter.”

When asked about the age difference, Pacquiao said, “He said he’s young, but we’ll see who looks young in the ring on July 20. I’m going to let my fists say everything for me.”

Thurman’s trainer, Dan Birmingham, likes his fighter’s chances.

“He has a renewed vigor — more energy — and he’s anxious to fight and anxious to train,” Keith said. “His power, ferociousness and tenacity will be a problem for Manny.”

Birmingham has trained Thurman since his original coach, Ben Getty, died 10 years ago,

“One of the keys to Thurman’s impending victory is very simple,” Birmingham said. “It’s been the rest factor. He’s rejuvenated his body and mind, he got married and as I said before, he has someone to fight for.”

Thurman hasn’t fought in more than two years after undergoing elbow surgery in 2017.

He acknowledges that, “Manny is a world-class fighter and a legend in the sport. He’s a gentleman inside and outside of the ring. I look forward to trading punches with a living legend. But one thing’s for sure, he’s not walking away with my title. We’re going to win this fight.”

Marie Y. Lemelle is the owner of Platinum Star PR and can be reached on Twitter @PlatinumStar or Instagram @PlatinumStarPR.