It’s 2019 and Manny Pacquiao is back in the A-side role of a pay-per-view fight in Las Vegas.
In a true testament to the greatness and longevity of the 24-year professional, Pacquiao will enter Saturday’s title bout against unbeaten WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman as the betting favorite when the two touch gloves inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena (Fox PPV, 9 p.m. ET).
For the 40-year-old Pacquiao, the only fighter in boxing history to win titles in eight divisions, the fight moves him one step closer to proving he’s the best 147-pound fighter in a crowded and dangerous division. It would also help cement even further his Hall of Fame resume with a victory over a prime and powerful opponent who lacks nothing in terms of speed and technique.
It may come as no surprise that the 30-year-old Thurman isn’t expecting to roll over for the Filipino icon. The brash champion, known as “One Time,” has predicted a knockout of Pacquiao and has willingly stated his intention to retire him.
Respect box? Subscribe to our podcast — State of Combat with Brian Campbell — where we take an in-depth look at the world of boxing each week, including a complete preview of Pacquiao-Thurman starting at the 44:05 mark below.
“I say I’m going to put him to sleep because I’ve got power,” Thurman said during Wednesday’s final press conference. “I want to remind the world of something, something very simple: I’m Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman. I have the name for a reason, not a short season.
“Manny isn’t going to do anything. With the little ‘T-Rex’ arms. He’s about to get beat up. I get to punch a Senator in the face and he’s going to feel it. If he’s upset about it, he can do something about it Saturday night. It’s called swing, swing, swing baby.”
True to form, Pacquiao has been anything but offended and has brushed off the trash talk in favor of focusing on his hopes for a toe-to-toe clash that excites the fans.
“For me, nothing is personal,” Pacquiao said. “I have to do my job and there is nothing personal with him. Our job is to fight and he has to prove something, and I have to prove something. That’s why I’m so motivated for this fight and this training camp.”
More Pacquiao-Thurman:| |
The fight will take place in the gambling capital of the world, however, and Thurman hasn’t hidden from the fact that he has placed a substantial bet on himself to score an early knockout.
“I’m a winner in life, and to bet on myself to win in the opening rounds,” Thurman said. “It makes me do what I said earlier, which is swing, swing, swing. You’ve got to swing to hit a home run. You can’t just sit there and pump fake all day.”
In addition to the monumental showdown between Pacquiao and Thurman on Saturday night is an important battle at 168 pounds when Caleb Plant defends his IBF crown against Mike Lee in the final bout before the card moves to PPV. The two have engaged in a bitter war of words in the lead up to this one and are expecting fireworks when they reach the ring inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Plus, it’s the return of some other big names in boxing with Yordenis Ugas, Omar Figueroa, Luis Nery and Sergey Lipinets all making their way back to the ring. And the super prospect at heavyweight Efe Ajagba is back with his next test ahead of him. Ajagba famously had an opponent exit the ring and head immediately back to the locker room as the first bell rang to start a fight.