Pacquiao vs. Thurman: 50-50 fight on July 20
By Chris Williams: Manny Pacquiao will be taking his biggest fight in the last two years when he faces Keith Thurman on July 20 on PBC on FOX Sports pay-per-view in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Pacquiao-Thurman fight was announced last Saturday night, but surprisingly there’s very little buzz about the match.
Pacquiao vs. Thurman is viewed by a lot of fans as a 50-50 affair. Thurman’s recent scare against journeyman Josesito Lopez is what has a lot of fan wondering whether he has enough left in the tank to defeat the 40-year-old Pacquiao.
It was thought that the boxing fans would go crazy at the news of Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) taking on WBA Super World welterweight champion Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs) in a clash on PPV, but instead fans are less than excited about this fight. Many of them are wondering why Pacquiao agreed to fight Errol Spence Jr., and then changed his mind about wanting to take that fight. It almost looks like Pacquiao lost his nerve. Thurman is a decent fighter, but clearly he left his prime behind him over 700 yesterday’s ago.
There will be a news conference in two weeks from now that will fill the details about where precisely the Pacquiao-Thurman fight will be taking place on the 20th of July. As of now, the boxing public will have to be satisfied with knowing that the contest will be taking place in Las Vegas, and will be televised on Fox Sports pay-per-view.
The two years of inactivity that Thurman had from 2017 to 2019 has done a number on his boxing skills, as well as his punch resistance. It was alarming to see Thurman being hurt by high level journeyman Josesito Lopez (36-8, 19 KOs) in his comeback fight last January in Brooklyn, New York. Thurman was hurt in the seventh round by Josesito and within a whisper of being taken out. Had that been a talented welterweight instead the 34-year-old Josesito, Thurman would have been knocked out. The boxing public are very aware of how bad Thurman looked against Josesito, which is why they’re not so keen at paying to see him fight 40-year-old Pacquiao right now. This match would have been better off taking place in 2014 before Manny was soundly beaten by Floyd Mayweather Jr. At this point, it’s a fight very similar to the Terence Crawford vs. Amir Khan match, which took place on ESPN pay-per-view on April 20. That fight reportedly failed to bring in a lot PPV buys. That’s understandable because Crawford isn’t a PPV fighter, and Khan is considered a shot fighter in the eyes of a lot of boxing fans. Pacquiao vs. Thurman is the same type of fight. It’s a decent match for regular Fox, but definitely not PPV worthy in the view of a lot of boxing fans.
Thurman’s two years of inactivity from 2017 to 2019, and the 40-year-old Pacquiao no longer the talent that he once was due to the unkind effects of age, makes this fight an odd duck when it comes to it being a PPV match. This fight would have been ideal to put on free television on FOX Sports in order to attract a lot of attention from fans. It would have been the ideal vehicle to help boost the sagging popularity of Thurman and Pacquiao. By putting the fight on PPV, it’s arguably a wrong-headed idea, because both fighters have out of the limelight for such a long period of time. Pacquiao has done nothing with his career since his loss to Mayweather in 2015. Although Pacquiao won the WBA ‘regular’ welterweight strap in beating 35-year-old Lucas Matthysse by an eighth round knockout last year in July, he’s considered a paper champion by a lot of boxing fans. In other words, Pacquiao is the WBA SECONDARY welterweight champion, below Thurman, and considered by a lot of people as being below IBF champion Errol Spence, WBC champ Shawn Porter and WBO belt holder Terence Crawford. As such, Pacquiao vs. Thurman was a perfect fight for non-PPV, but not a pay-per-view worthy fight due to the two combatants being out of the limelight for such a long time. The fight would have attracted massive numbers on NON-PPV. Having the Pacquiao-Thurman fight on Fox Sports PPV could result in a match that could bring in dismal numbers, below the Spence vs. Mikey Garcia fight that took place on March 16. Garcia is popular, as is Spence. Pacquiao and Thurman have been out of view due to inactivity and the weak opposition they’ve faced recently.
Pacquiao recently successfully defended his secondary WBA 147-pound belt in defeating Adrien Broner (33-4-1, 24 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision on January 19 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The scores were 117-111, 116-112 and 116-112. What was interesting about that fight was Pacquiao didn’t improve upon the performance that lightweight Mikey Garcia put in with his own victory over Broner in July 2017. Mikey beat Broner by the identical scores of 116-112, 117-111 and 116-112. Mikey’s performance against Broner looked to be more dominating than Pacquiao did, which tells you all you need to know about what the Filipino star has left in the tank at age 40. Pacquiao is longer performing at the level that he was at years ago when he was considered by many fans at the #2 welterweight in the division behind Floyd Mayweather Jr. At this point in Pacquiao’s career, he’d be lucky to be viewed as the fifth best fighter in the 147 pound weight class. Thurman is in the same boat. His prime is well behind him in the rear-view mirror.
“Manny Pacquiao is not going to be here for the years to come,” Thurman said to ESPN.com in talking about how important it is for him to fight him now. “Just fighting a legend, I just feel like the clock is ticking…He’s not the young Manny Pacquiao that he once was but he still is a great, world-class fighter. If we get that fight, we’d be happy to do it for ourselves and the fans.”
Thurman is correct in saying that Pacquiao isn’t the young fighter he once was. Thurman isn’t the same fighter he once was either, and he’s not old at 30. His skills seem to have taken a hit nonetheless due to his injury problems and inactivity.
Pacquiao recently got IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence’s hopes up by agreeing to fight him next. But as it turns out, Pacquiao had his sights set on facing Thurman. That’s the fight that he and Premier Boxing Champions wanted all along. Spence was left behind with Pacquiao choosing to take the arguably weaker opponent in 30-year-old Thurman for his next fight. A lot of fans want to know why Pacquiao bothered to climb into the ring after Spence’s win over Mikey Garcia last March in Arlington, Texas. Was it a move to get Thurman to come in at a lower asking price in the negotiations with Pacquiao? Why else would Pacquiao get into the ring with Spence and agree to fight him? It makes sense if one sees it a way for Pacquiao to negotiate a better deal with Thurman, who BADLY wanted the fight with the Filipino star. It would be no use of Thurman trying to setup a fight with Pacquiao after he faces Spence, because he would likely be trounced by him and left on the canvas. Thurman had to fight Pacquiao before he fought Spence, because if he got him afterwards, the fan interest would likely no longer be there. Of course, Pacquiao would have had a puncher’s chance of beating Spence, but that’s about it. Spence vs. Pacquiao would have been a mismatch similar to the Spence-Garcia and Spence vs. Lamont Peterson fights.
In looking at the Pacquiao-Thurman fight, one has to wonder whether Pacquiao is making the right decision in making this. Pacquiao would likely make more money fighting Spence than he would in facing the inactive Thurman. If the Pacquiao vs. Thurman fight had been made two years ago, it would make sense, but not now. Spence has arguably taken over as the most popular welterweight on the planet, and that’s the guy that Pacquiao should have selected if he wanted to make a lot of money from pay-per-view sales on Fox Sports.