ight-division champion Manny Pacquiao and unbeaten welterweight world champion Keith Thurman appeared at Gotham Hall in New York City to promote their showdown on Saturday July 20th at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Pacquiao and Thurman will square-off in a welterweight world title attraction that headlines a PBC Card on FOX Sports.
Why Now & Why Thurman
At 40 years old, Manny Pacquiao is well past his prime. Given all that he has accomplished in his career, many ask why continue to fight? There have been rumblings of money problems, although unsubstantiated at this time. In response to the query Pacquiao gave the press your typical canned response, “I want to prove that at age 40 I can still beat a great fighter like Keith. My time is not yet over. My journey is continuing. I’m going to prove that and more on July 20 against Keith Thurman.”
Yet, aside from continuing to fight at the age of 40, there is also the question of opposition. Enter Keith Thurman, while Thurman has largely been inactive over the past couple of years due to a variety of injuries, he is still the best fighter Pacquiao has faced in some time. A step well above Pacquiao’s most recent competition such as Jeff Horn, Adrian Broner or Lucas Matthysse. So why Thurman? Pacquiao said he “chose Keith Thurman because he’s undefeated…I’ve never been scared of a challenge. I’m so excited for this fight against an undefeated champion. He’s the kind of fighter that you can’t underestimate. His record and success gives me more motivation to work hard.”
“I’ve been careless and over confident in some fights, but this time around it’s different. Keith Thurman is a good fighter and we’re going to make sure the fans are happy on July 20.” Credit to Pacquiao for taking on an opponent that simply isn’t a left over from the Top Rank stable, but a fighter in his prime. However, it will be a tall order on July 20th.
What Does Keith Thurman Have to Say?
Not missing a beat Keith Thurman had his own thoughts about the upcoming bout. His responses, while respectful, were less canned. He did ironically invoke boxing history, recalling when Pacquiao admonished Oscar De La Hoya from the ring. Ironically, the same scenario does seem to be percolating here. “Pacquiao wants a challenge and I’m very grateful to be sharing a ring with a legend. If you understand boxing history, you know that times change. I believe boxing is in a new era. Come July 20, Pacquiao will disappear. He’ll always be remembered in the sport, but I’m doing to Manny Pacquiao, what he did to Oscar De La Hoya.
Thurman also did not shy away from what many perceive to be his achilles heel – his lack of activity. “We definitely had a stretch with a lack of activity. Not everyone knows who Keith Thurman is today. You could see that I wasn’t at my best in January. But on July 20, ‘One Time’ is back. I’m getting ready to have one of my best training camps for this fight. This is a big fight. I’ve waited 22 months to get back in the game. We had our ups and downs, but Keith Thurman is back on the rise. I’m going to make a big statement.”
Yet Thurman, saved the best for last. “I’m excited to be the guy who shows Manny Pacquiao where the exit is. He’s a legend who’s done great things. But I’ve never lost to a fighter who’s lost seven times. I have no intention of losing this fight and I don’t see him winning in any shape or form.
This could be a competitive affair, however, as Rocky Balboa aptly stated in the film Creed, when asked how he beat Apollo Creed, “Father time beat him, it’s undefeated, it beats all fighters.” On July 20th, Manny Pacquiao will not only face Keith Thurman, but time itself, and it also has an “0” in the loss column.