By Dean Flessel: Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman started off on the wrong foot in getting knocked down by Manny Pacquiao in the first round, and he was never able to come back from in losing a 12 round split decision last Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Thurman (29-1, 21 KOs) lost not only his WBA Super World welterweight title to Pacquiao, but also his unbeaten record.  That was a double whammy for Thurman.

Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) surprised a lot of boxing fans in taking the fight to the younger, bigger and stronger Thurman from start to finish, and beating him by the scores 115-112, 115-112 for Pacquiao, and 114-113 Thurman. For all people that thought Thurman was going to make the 40-year-old Pacquiao look his age, he proved them all wrong. Age is just a number when it comes to Pacquiao.

Thurman vows to return

“I’m not going nowhere. I’ll be back,” said Thurman at the post-fight news conference following his loss to Pacquiao last Saturday night. “I wanted to give him a pressing fight. Even though he knocked me down, I still wanted to be in his face. I felt like he was getting a little bit tired in the later rounds, but he does train hard. He keeps his hands up. He’s been in so many wars, and now he knows not what to do. He knows how to utilize his defense a little bit better. I know he’s been the more active fighter than me, and at age 40, that’s probably the best thing he had going for him to keep active to stay in shape,” said Thurman.

After the fight, Thurman, 30, said he’d like a rematch with Pacquiao. That’s probably a long shot at this point without Thurman getting two or three solid wins under his belt first. At this point, Thurman would need to beat the likes of Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. to get a return fight with the former eight division world champion Pacquiao. The way Thurman has performed in his last two fights since launching his comeback, it’s not realistic to assume he’ll beat Spence or Crawford.

It’s even more unlikely that Thurman will dare to fight either of those guys. Thurman is going to want to rebuild now following his loss, and it could take him a year before he faces a talented opponent. It’s likely that when Thurman does step it back up, it’ll be in a rematch against Danny Garcia or Shawn Porter. Thurman has beaten both guys in the past, and there would be a lot of interest from the boxing public in seeing ‘One Time’ fight them again.

Thurman: I wish I could given more

“I told everybody I’m getting back this year after two years [out of the ring],” said Thurman in talking about 2019 being his “get back year.” “The original Keith Thurman would have walked away with a victory tonight. I could have had a better output with my numbers to go toe-to-toe with Manny Pacquiao, because he always brings that high output. And I wish I could have given him more. The rounds were flying by,” said Thurman.

Thurman did the best he could under the circumstances for the fight. He was arguably fighting at roughly 70% capacity after being out of the ring for two years, and the speed and stamina wasn’t there for him last Saturday against Pacquiao. When Thurman did press Pacquiao, it didn’t work in his favor much of the time. Pacquiao’s better conditioning made it easy for him to fight in a fast paced manner than it did for Thurman. Although One Time did press the issue in the championship rounds, it leave him vulnerable to Pacquiao’s body shots. Thurman was hurt in round 10 from a shot to the body, and he was fortunate not to get dropped. Had that happened in the first round, Thurman probably would have been stopped. Pacquiao didn’t have the same energy in the 10th that he did in round one.

Thurman talks about his nose being injured by Pacquiao

“It wasn’t that bad. He just hit me on the right spot, and I had some leakage,” Thurman said about his bloody nose he suffered in round five. “I had my nose bleeding in sparring a bit, and I believe he hit it right on the button, and that activated something I went through. I just had to deal with it. It didn’t bother me too much,” said Thurman.

Thurman’s nose was bloodied by a hard left hand from Pacquiao in round five. Shot didn’t seem to effect Thurman’s game though, as he continued to fight hard after his nose was bloodied.  Pacquiao tried to turn up the heat on Thurman when he saw blood, but he couldn’t capitalize on the situation due to One Time’s movement.

Thurman says he felt he needed a knockdown to win

“I was just trying to put some pressure on him, and land some good counters, but he was quite conservative,” said Thurman about Manny. “But, I think I started to get better later on in the fight. I started to put some pressure on him, but my numbers just weren’t up to par to be victorious tonight. I felt like I was getting some momentum back, and at the moment, I knew it was going to be difficult back on my side for the remainder for the remainder of the championship rounds. My coach Dan Birmingham said I needed to win every round. I felt like I needed a knockdown,” said Thurman.

With the speed and power that Pacquiao showed in the fight, it was impossible for Thurman to hurt him with a shot to score a knockdown. Thurman tried to land some big punches, but he couldn’t get enough on them in the later rounds of the contest. Fatigue obviously played a factor in that as well. Thurman’s power wasn’t the same later in the fight compared to early on when he was fresh.

Thurman talks about being hurt in round 10

“I was definitely obviously hurt in that round,” said Thurman about Pacquiao hurting him with a body shot in round 10. “It was a close fight. That’s what boxing is all about. I tried to push him to his limit, but he came out with the win. Definitely,” said Thurman when asked if he would have done better if he had a few more tune-up fights before fighting Pacquiao. “We’ve seen champions deal with inactivity that didn’t favor them from time to time. I just felt like I could counter him, and use my jab from the outside, and pressure him. I felt I fell short of the numbers game,” said Thurman.

Pacquiao knew where to place his punches to the body in the later rounds. His trainer Freddie Roach had done his homework to spot Thurman’s weakness in taking body shots, and Manny took full advantage of that by going to his body in the second half of the fight.

Thurman regrets not taking another tune-up fight before facing Pacquiao

“In the knockdown in the first round, he did capitalize by springing at me while I was moving backwards,” said Thurman. “I could have utilized more head movement. When I was juking and jiving, I was confusing Pacquiao pretty well in there. I knew I had the skills to be victorious in the ring. Yeah, obviously 22 months out of the ring, and then facing Josesito Lopez and Manny Pacquiao. I tried to be active, but maybe another fight in between would have helped,” Thurman said in second guessing his decision to face Manny in his second fight of his comeback.

It might have taken more than one or two tune-ups for Thurman to get back to where he was. He needed to stay in the gym in between fights, and not let his weight get out of control. After Thurman’s win over Josesito Lopez last January, he packed on a lot of pounds, and looked like a short, bloated light heavyweight. Thurman wills shorten his career if he continues to balloon up in weight in between fights. He was able to get away with that earlier in his career, but he’s 30-years-old now, and starting to show his age. He’s got to keep his weight down to a manageable level for him to get back to the form that he had in 2017. Treating his training camps as glorified fat farms won’t work for Thurman.

Pacquiao compares Thurman’s power to Antonio Margarito

“Keith is like [Antonio] Margarito,” said Pacquiao when asked if Thurman is the hardest puncher he’s ever faced in his boxing career. “Margarito was very heavy-handed, I think because he’s very big.”

Pacquiao is forgetting about his fights against Miguel Cotto and Joshua Clottey. Those two fighters had plenty of punching power that would rival that of Thurman. It’s obviously difficult for Manny to compare the power of Thurman to his past opponents, because many of those fights took place 10 or more years ago. Cotto was hitting Pacquiao with some massive shots in their fight in 2009. Afterwards, Pacquiao looked a lot more banged up from that fight than he did last night.

Thurman discusses being hurt by body shot in round 10

“I was a bit body shocked, and it reminded me of Luis Collazo,” said Thurman when asked about how he felt after being hurt by a body shot from Pacquiao in round 10. I was hit slightly near the solar plexus, and slightly near the rib. It probably caught me in a breathing moment, and I just wanted to recover from it. I knew he was going to put some pressure on me. I wanted to see if he would walk into anything, but he was very wise in there. He did his time. He’s patient. I really felt that I could have brought the fight closer to a draw without that body shot,” said Thurman.

The shot that Pacquiao hit Thurman with was one when he wasn’t prepared for it. Pacquiao’s rapid fire punching attack made it difficult for Thurman to brace for a lot of the shots that he was getting hit with. It’s just a surprise that Thurman wasn’t hurt more frequently than he was, because it could have been worse. Thurman’s movement obviously helped him in that respect. If he’d been more stationary, he would have likely been stopped by Manny.

Thurman’s ability to stand in the trenches and slug it out is suspect, and it always has. Even in Thurman’s fight against Robert Guerrero in 2015, he was getting beaten up in the first four rounds when he stood and fought him one-on-one. Before the fight, Thurman had said he would stand stationary for the first six rounds to prove a point that he could beat Guerrero by slugging. But, Thurman was forced to get on his bike when suffered a huge hematoma on his forehead, and taking some major punishment.

Thurman says, “We’re not going nowhere”

“The later rounds were starting to go my way. There are many times in the sport of boxing where one thing changes the course of the outcome,” said Thurman. “Manny started with the knockdown [in round one], and then the body shot later. It was hard to convince the judges I did enough. We got to do a little bit more. We got to get our numbers back up. I do know I’m a true champion. Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman has always been a true champion. I will be back at the top of the sport of boxing. We’re not going nowhere. We will be back,” said Thurman.

Thurman sounded a little defensive at the end of the news conference last Saturday in telling the boxing media that he’s not going to disappear following his loss to Pacquiao. However, Thurman didn’t give any hints at which direction he plans on going in for his next fight. There are a lot of options available for Thurman to take  in terms of good opponents for him to rebuild with.

This is a short list of guys that One Time should consider fighting next:

  • Danny Garcia
  • Yordenis Ugas
  • Shawn Porter
  • Jessie Vargas
  • Jeff Horn
  • Sergey Lipinets
  • Jamal James
  • David Avanesyan
  • Amir Khan
  • Alexander Besputin