By Pete Axline: Keith Thurman says he’s got the better ring IQ than Manny Pacquiao, and he’s expecting the Filipino star to make mistakes this Saturday night that he’ll take advantage of. Thurman is excited about this fight, because it’s the first time in his career that he’s he’s facing a big name.
The odds for the fight have shifted to Pacquiao’s side with a lot of late betting. Thurman says he doesn’t mind, because there a of people angry with him due to the trash talking he’s done
Thurman (29-0, 21 KOs) states that he wants to carve his own Boxing legacy with a win over the 40-year-old former eight division world champion Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) when they meet up this Saturday night on July 20 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Thurman not sure Pacquiao is toughest fight of his career
“I’ve been waiting for this opportunity all my life, and the time is now,” said Thurman to Inside PBC Boxing. “I’m going to get it. You should never assume someone is going to be your toughest opponent until they prove it,” said Thurman when asked if Pacquiao is his toughest opponent of his career. “He may be the toughest opponent of my career, but I do not know today. I will find out very soon. Manny Pacquiao is a legend. Is the legendary 40-year-old Manny Pacquiao the type of fighter today to beat an undefeated fighter like myself or is the undefeated welterweight Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman, undefeated for a reason, is he really hard for anybody to beat? Who better to beat him than the legendary Manny Pacquiao,” said Thurman.
It’s perfectly reasonable for Thurman not to be calling Manny the toughest opponent of his career yet. Thurman has been in with Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia and Josesito Lopez. Those were highly talented fighters that were looking to take Thurman’s head off. None of those fights were easy ones for Thurman. If Pacquiao can fight above the level of those three guys, there’s a good chance that he’ll beat Thurman on Saturday night.
Thurman barely squeaked by Porter, Garcia and Lopez by the skin of his teeth. Had those guys done just a little bit more, ‘One Time’ Thurman would now have three defeats on his record. It’s easy to see where they went wrong. They all allowed Thurman to win the majority of the rounds in the first half of their fights.
Thurman says beating Pacquiao will help create his legacy
“I’ve always wanted to become a legend in the sport. One way [of becoming a legend] is by defeating a legend or throughout your career creating your own legacy,” said Thurman. “I have an opportunity right now of creating my own legacy by defeating Manny Pacquiao, and I’m definitely looking forward to it. We know Manny Pacquiao is not a technical fighter. We believe he’s going to make mistakes in the ring. We believe we have the better Boxing IQ, and we’re going to be able to expose certain things round by round in the fight,” said Thurman.
It’s oviously going to require more from Thurman than a win over 40-year-old Pacquiao to create a lasting legacy. Up until now, Thurman’s wins the small handful of quality fighters he’s face haven’t been decisive enough for him to build a legacy. If Thurman defeats Manny, he’ll still need to prove himself by defeating Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford. Those two are at the top of the 147 pound division, and viewed as the best. Pacquiao is below them in the top five. Thurman needs to stop making excuses for why he’s not fighting Spence and Crawford, and just face them already. That’s how Thurman is going to create a real legacy. Beating Pacquiao is a good beginning for Thurman, but it’s not the end of the road. Right now, a lot of Boxing fans are hoping that Thurman doesn’t get sidelined for an extended time with injuries again
The injury prone Thurman has shown himself to be brittle in the last three years of his career. If he continues to suffer injuries at the same clip, he may not ever get around to facing the likes of Spence and Crawford. That might be a good thing for Thurman.
Thurman explains why he’s now the B-side
“According to the bookies, I’m the b-side, but the performance hasn’t happened yet, right? So, you can look at it many different ways,” said Thurman. “You can look at it like a lot of people don’t like the way Keith Thurman has been talking, right? Maybe I didn’t get under Manny Pacquiao’s skin, but I got underneath a lot of different Filipino’s, you know. We know the Asians like to gamble, Shawn. You’ve been through the casinos. You know the Asians are in there betting money all day. So they’re live. They’e hyped. They don’t like what Keith Thurman has to say. They want to see Keith Thurman go down,” said Thurman.
The odds-makers are obviously observing the way Thurman and Pacquiao are looking in their workouts. They’re making their bets on how the two of them look. Right now, Pacquiao appears to be the superior fighter in the workouts. Thurman, 30, is looking slow, less explosive and not impressive. One Time has lost something from his game from the two years that he was out of the ring with injuries. The hand speed isn’t what it once was, and he has a tired look to him like someone in their 30s starting to show age.
Pacquiao being the favorite doesn’t bother Thurman
“He [Pacquiao] started off as the underdog. So at first there was money to make,” said Thurman. “So now the odds are a little bit shifted, but still it’s not bad odds, if you like betting Manny Pacquiao. You know, Vegas is a betting city. At the end of the day, I’m happy, because when I go to cash in, I’m going to get paid this time. You can say whatever you want to say. We got the A-side right here [Thurman shows his right hand]. I’ve got the B-side [Thurman shows his left hand], and you’re going to see the truth very soon,” said Thurman.
Pacquiao and Thurman will be fighting it out on Fox Sports pay-per-view this Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. The winner of the fight could face the winner of the Spence vs. Porter unification fight. Three of the four welterweight titles would be on the line for that fight. A win for Pacquiao would be huge for his career, because it would give him his best victory since his win over Miguel Cotto in 2009.