THOUGHTS🤔 – While the Welterweight division has had the strongest quality of overall talent it’s had in maybe a couple decades, the majority of the talent were circling their own wagons early in their career in trying to bolster their own profile to better position themselves for future negotiations to big fights, a common trope when the most skilled fighters of a division are young boxers looking to make an imprint leading up to the mega match-ups.
It appears now at this point that all the dominoes are starting to fall, and there is plenty of movement currently happening with the young fighters fighting and scheduled to fight each other in the prime of their careers. As for the young contingent, 🇺🇸Keith “One Time” Thurman (29-0-0, 22KO)…was probably the linchpin of this Welterweight climate before the injuries in securing fights with, and facing other Championship quality opposition, taking back-to-back fights with Shawn Porter & Danny Garcia. Here he has the toughest assignment of his career considering his opponents pedigree, that opponents ability to still be able to fight at an advanced age, as well as the financial and critical implications of acclaim at stake for Keith, determining where he’s at, and where he wants to go.
Where does ♛🇵🇭Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39KO) fit into this Welterweight equation? he is ultimately the old relic of the bunch, who ALMOST LITERALLY fought any and every top notch fighter that he could possibly fight all the way from Flyweight, to Super-Welterweight, while eventually settling in the Welterweight division to take on as many top quality opponents as possible, even through the crossing over of generations. He has been able to remain relevant due to his diet, keeping in shape, retaining his stamina, and maintaining his speed and reflexes despite being 40 years old, which makes him dangerous even for this contingent of Welterweight talent, due to Pacquiao being one of the most cerebral boxers of the last couple of generations. With him keeping those traits in tact, his body is still a good enough vehicle for him to carry out most of what he wants to do in the ring. They both decided to take on this big fight, and for both, the ramifications of a win or a loss on Saturday are very differing for each fighter. For Manny, he’s looking for yet another quality name to add to his extensive HOF resumé while seeking out the win. He is also looking to prolong his career a little while longer to help himself out of his debt situation, so if he’s able to thrive here, he can look for another good fight that would promise a good deal of revenue. For Thurman, a loss could have serious setbacks for him to have to overcome, to bounce back from to put himself in prime position for all the other big fights. On the flip side, the reason why Thurman wanted this fight is to be able to fight a legend in Pacquiao, so that he can continue the chapter of lineage with older fighters giving the younger fighters the experiences necessary so that they are better equipped for the journey of trying to achieve greatness in their time going forward, so there is no better opportunity for Thurman to get in order to obtain that positioning.
THE BREAKDOWN🔎 – Starting with Keith Thurman, his two best assets are his overall athleticism (enabling him to get to spots where most can’t), and his boxing IQ, which is underrated in the eyes of the overall boxing public. Thurman is also a very stubborn, tough-minded fighter with thick skin so-to-speak, who is very sure of himself, and welcoming to exchanges. He hits hard, though he doesn’t hit quite as hard as his nickname “One Time” would suggest; Instead he’s the type to string punches together in ferocity to do serious damage to get you out of there. There are a few areas where Thurman has drawbacks. His defense at times tends to be all over the place, can sometimes forget about the quality jab he has, and his punches come out wide, very wide whenever he feels that he has his man drunk. That tendency can be a serious detriment to someone who you would consider to be a sharpshooter counter-puncher whose punches get to the target a little faster, who delivers the overall straighter punches.
This is where the master Filipino boxer comes into play. Despite being 40 years of age, he actually possesses faster hands than Thurman, which is remarkable not just for his age, but because Thurman himself has quick hands. Pacquiao from the southpaw stance has been one of the most devastating counter-punchers since Freddie Roach left his imprint on him (from Super-Featherweight on up), exclusively with his long left cross, and his short right hook that he lands with uncanny ability against orthodox fighters. Manny punches at some of the strangest, most unique angles that we’ve ever seen, which is why he’s able to land those high octane combinations, yet from those angles, the punches tend to shoot straight, and gets to the mark quickly, which could spell a recipe for disaster for Thurman…that is if Pacquiao didn’t age overnight. It is tough to predict anything for 40+ year old boxers, because the natural thought is at some point, the body has to show some signs of slowing down. After getting an extensive view of his training, conditional exercises, I’ve concluded that Manny is still at the level that we’ve seen him operate at in 6 of his last 7 fights, also further evidenced by there being no changes to his body, or no fat being tacked on in the middle, which is normally accustomed for an aging boxer. What Thurman can exploit is that Manny has the propensity of falling in at times behind his left hand. Thurman also has the size advantage, which is rare for him, being that he’s only 5’7, albeit a stocky fighter, plus Thurman has the reach advantage to try to utilize. I also suspect that Thurman may be the stronger of the two in sheer physical strength, so he may want to try to get inside and rough Manny up, but Thurman should avoid middle distance at all costs, to take away Manny’s advantage while staying outside, and doing his work up close. All things considered, there are many layers to this match-up, and with age being a question here, it adds the wildcard component, making any outcome possible.
SOMETHING TO NOTE📌 – Thurman has been unusually very vocal in the lead up to this fight, which says a lot considering that Thurman has the gift-of-Gab. One could draw the conclusion that he may be a little nervous with the fight approaching, which is possible, but his track record is one where he makes boastful statements outside the ring, then backs them up, bringing the fight with him inside the ropes. The real answer as to why he has been so talkative is for promotional reasons, agreeing to put on the black hat and become the villain, and since Manny doesn’t say much at all, Keith & his team feel it’s best to generate more of a buzz for this fight by adding friction and some tense moments to get the boxing community talking, and possibly pulling in more people to tune-in for the fight. It is actually an effective strategy, because as much of a natural draw Pacquiao has been, there are a certain contingent of fans who has lost interest in paying for a PPV ticket to see Pacquiao considering that he’s not at his best anymore, so to get those people interested in tuning in with hopes to see Keith get beat up by the older guy they used to always root for is a way to fill that gap. Thurman understands the magnitude of this fight financially, so he knows he needs to win, and to win big if possible, but it won’t be easy.
🥁|| MY PREDICTION – I don’t know what the betting odds are, but if the younger man is favored, I can actually see the veteran ♛🇵🇭Manny Pacquiao pulling off the somewhat surprising victory via Split-Decision, or by a competitive Unanimous Decision if Manny hasn’t aged since his last fight. ⚠️(“116-112 or 115-113 for PACQUIAO”).