The biggest fight of the year so far is happening this Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Future first ballot Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao returns to his home away from home to face the undefeated Keith Thurman. The main event is a 50-50 fight on paper and the undercard is stacked with can’t miss action across the board. For Manny, a win over a fighter 10 years younger would be a great accomplishment at the age of 40. For Thurman, a decisive victory of Pacquiao would catapult his career to new heights.
At the press conference to introduce this event, Keith Thurman was a slight favorite over the Senator from the Philippines. As the July 20 date inched closer to fight week the line slowly but surely began to tip in favor of Pacquiao. Once his fans started to arrive in ‘Sin City’ to support their knight in shining armor, predictably the line has moved to make Pacquiao the favorite. At some point it will move enough to signal to those who think Thurman will beat Pacquiao, to lay their money down thus shrinking the odds back closer even.
It appears that each fighter’s training camp has been top notch, safe to say the best in a while for Pacquiao, on recess as Senator has made it possible for him to fully focus on boxing. Thurman getting another camp after such a long layoff is crucial as well as adding an improved strength and conditioning regiment. Drug testing for this FOX PPV consists of “Vada-style” testing strangely through the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Thurman’s bread and butter, the left hook and a lunging right hand, he can time with accuracy and plenty of pop. As we all know Pacquiao’s straight left still has plenty of snap, along with a decent jab and right hook. Thurman’s youth, movement, and timing standout, especially in this type of matchup, Pacquiao has loads of experience and his foot/hand speed is second to none even at this point of a storied career.
Can Thurman get a decision outboxing Pacquiao? That question has been stuck in my head for the last week or so. Although he shouldn’t be as aggressive as he was versus Danny Garcia early, regardless he will need to be more active to win. Keith claims he will stand his ground to begin the fight and will test the waters of pushing Pacquiao backwards. What will ‘One Time’ do when Manny clips him on the way inside? Previously when Thurman was hurt he immediately high-tailed it and got on his bike, a smart strategy sure but it won’t equate to a victory.
Neither fighter is known for his defense. Thurman gets hit less overall because of his outside movement. If Keith doesn’t knockout or badly hurt Pacquiao, Manny has proven time and time again he can rally back after flush shots. When Thurman has gotten hurt on numerous occasions his fight style and demeanor changes almost instantly as previously mentioned.
Pacquiao would be wise to attack the body when combination punching, an area Thurman has shown vulnerability. Can Thurman adapt elements of Juan Manuel Marquez’s strategy with timing and setting traps? Thurman will need to pivot off the jab to remain close enough to retaliate but on the move so Manny can’t put everything into his punches or score repeated blows.
Thurman will have to deliver a peak career performance to defeat Manny Pacquiao but this podcaster is not completely sure Thurman can win 9-3 or at the very least 8-4, which is what it will likely take to get the judge’s scorecards in Las Vegas. If it was 2017 right after Thurman beat Danny Garcia it would be less difficult to pick him over Manny based off style. Although this hack-of-scribe is planning to put some doe on Thurman as a very live dog Manny will get his hand raised on fight night. That said, we may walk away thinking Thurman won 7 rounds and could’ve gotten the nod. By the way to those who like this fight to by stoppage either way the over/under is very tempting.
My Official Prediction is Manny Pacquiao by Majority Decision
This FOX PPV is a high quality undercard and well worth the price of the card. The co-feature matches Omar Figueroa against Yordenis Ugas in what amounts to a great style matchup. It will be a 12-rounder with a WBC welterweight title eliminator at stake. Figueroa is a punching machine which may bode fairly well for Ugas. I’m picking Ugas to land the harder shots catching Omar coming in. Ugas UD
Also, Caleb Plant vs. Mike Lee and heavyweight prospect Efe Ajagba will be on the FOX prelims. Luis Nery vs. Carlos Payano gets things started on the PPV around 9 Eastern.