The battle at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on July 20 between the only eight-division world champion, Manny “PacMan” Pacquaio (61-7-2), and the undefeated WBA Welterweight Champion Keith “One Time” Thurman (29-0) proved to be one of the best main fight events this year.
More than 14,000 boxing fans rose to their feet to watch the show-stopping gladiators enter the ring in grand style with their entourages.
“Class is in session. I hope Keith Thurman studied hard, because Professor Pacquiao gives very hard tests,” said Pacquiao in a pre-fight press conference.
Thurman responded, “I’m ready. This is my time. It’s grind time and it’s showtime. I’m planning on giving fans an incredible fight — one to be remembered.”
Late in the first round of 12, Pacquaio showed Thurman what a 40-year-old powerhouse can do. With 24 seconds left on the clock, Thurman was knocked down by Pacquiao’s quick right hook to the chin and straight left to the belly. Thurman recovered and the next 11 rounds was a display of aggressive, exciting boxing.
Pacquiao was the more accurate puncher of the two fighters with 57 thrown per round to 48 per round for Thurman. Pacquiao also had an 82-18 edge in jabs landed.
At the end of the night, Pacquaio won by a split decision. Judge Glenn Feldman scored the fight 114–113 in favor of Thurman. Judges Dave Moretti and Tim Cheatham both scored 115-112 in favor of Pacquiao.
After months of trash talking and his first lost, Thurman said, “I knew it was too close. He got the knockdown so he had momentum in round one.”
Despite the outcome, Thurman put on an impressive show of endurance, skill, and strength. Thurman 192 landed punches on Pacquiao, the most by a Pacquiao opponent in 43 of his fights tracked by CompuBox.
Pacquiao, who throughout the journey to fight night, remained quiet about predictions. said, “I’m not that kind of boxer who talks a lot; we were just promoting the fight. I think he did his best, and I did my best. I think we made the fans happy tonight because it was a good fight.
“Even though Thurman lost, he did his best. He’s not an easy opponent. He’s a good boxer and he’s strong.”
What’s next for Pacquaio? Not retirement, as Thurman predicted. While Pacquiao is saddled with the task of beating Father Time; there is an impressive list of young, hungry welterweights waiting for the chance to take on the iconic legend.
The Errol Spence vs. Shawn Porter fight scheduled in September at Staples Center may determine Pacquiao’s next opponent.
Marie Y. Lemelle, is a public relations consultant, the owner of Platinum Star PR and can be reached on Twitter @PlatinumStar or Instagram @PlatinumStarPR. Send sports and entertainment questions or stories to email@example.com