‘Absurd’ Pacquiao is champ again
In what will go down as an all-time classic Manny Pacquiao has claimed the WBA Super Welterweight title by defeating Keith Thurman.
The 40-year-old champion showed he is simply ageless to defeat Thurman in an absolute classic, winning by split decision.
Judges scored the fight 114-113 to Thurman, 115-112 for Pacquiao and 115-112 for Pacquiao.
Australian boxing analyst Ben Damon called it an absurd performance from the Filipino star.
And that was followed by several others who called it a "Manny masterclass" as the boxer found the best version of himself in a ripping affair.
"It was fun," Pacquiao said.
"My opponent is a good fighter and boxer. He was strong. I think he did his best, and I did my best. I think we made the fans happy tonight because it was a good fight."
The pair traded shots several times throughout the fight, ripping each other with heavy blows but it was an opening round knockdown from Pacquiao that set the tone.
He dropped Thurman in the opening round of their bout with a beautiful left, right combination.
Pacquiao again dominated the second round and even did a slight dance after taking the round, bringing back memories of Muhammad Ali in his prime.
Pacquiao continued his dominance in the third and fourth rounds and the Filipino fighter continued to rage before Thurman, after sucking up a heap of Pacquiao offence, came out in the fifth looking to get the fight back on an even keel but many pundits believed the fight was still very much being fought on Pacquiao's terms.
A counter right even left Thurman bloody as Pacquiao again sat him back in his place.
The onslaught continued despite Thurman landing some good jabs in the sixth round, which led to commentators praising the greatness of Pacquiao.
"Manny rolling back the years here. Somebody check that man's birth certificate. Wow #PacquiaoThurman #boxing," tweeted Johnathan Shreager.
The seventh round saw Thurman start to take back some ground in the fight as Pacquiao took several shots top the jaw but withstood the punches from the American, leaving many in wonderment at how tough the Filipino's jaw is.
What a chin Pacquiao has!! Thurman connects with two great shots in the 7th and Pacquiao doesn’t seem fazed. #PacquiaoThurman— MayweatherPromotions (@MayweatherPromo) July 21, 2019
The fight though was turning in favour of Thurman in the later rounds as he began to land more heavy blows and cover up against Pacquiao's inside power game as perhaps Pacquiao's age began to catch up with him - the Filipino champion was throwing less punches and it was Thurman who landed more through rounds seven to nine.
But at the end of the ninth Pacquiao landed a ripping blow to the body that rocked the champ, although the round still belonged to Thurman as the war of attrition continued.
Thurman hurt badly from a body shot but hasn’t gone down yet. High drama in Vegas #PacquiaoThurman— Mike Coppinger (@MikeCoppinger) July 21, 2019
The body shots continued from Pacquiao in the tenth round and he again looked to have the champion in intense pain with many left stunned that Thurman was still standing.
The Athletic's boxing writer Mike Coppinger suggested that Thurman was in "intense pain" after that shot.
What a round!!!! I can’t believe Thurman stood up after that left hook to the liver. Was clearly in immense pain, and ends the round with a massive left hook to Manny’s head. What a fight. 95-94, Pacquiao #PacquiaoThurman— Mike Coppinger (@MikeCoppinger) July 21, 2019
The eleventh round was Pacquiao's but he did not take a backward step in the final round as both boxers threw plenty of leather trying to end the fight before it went to the judges' scorecards.
Both fighters pushed to the final bell and embraced.
"I knew it was close," Thurman said.
"He had the momentum because he got the knockdown in Round 1. I wish I had a little bit more output to go toe to toe.
"My conditioning, my output was just behind Manny Pacquiao's tonight. Tonight was a blessing and a lesson."
Thurman called for a rematch, and the crowd vocally approved.
Nearly 25 years after a 16-year-old Pacquiao stepped onto the scales for his pro debut with rocks in his pockets just to make the 105-pound minimum weight, the 40-year-old politician showed he could have several years left in his day job. Thurman had been eager to retire Pacquiao, but he couldn't hurt the ageless wonder.
Thurman eats a counter right hook from Manny. His face is bloodied! Pacquiao gained round 5 back. #PacquiaoThurman— Dino Maragay (@dino_mars) July 21, 2019