Could Pacquiao vs Thurman be a Fight of the Year Contender?

Image by rcelis from Pixabay

In an era where elite-level fighters are largely kept apart from each other by contractual wranglings and monetary disputes, it’s always refreshing when two of the best in the business agree to go toe to toe.

And so that’s why the welterweight showdown between Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman is so eagerly anticipated. It will take place at the MGM Grand on July 20 and be broadcast via PPV on Fox in the US.

It’s a genuine ‘pick ‘em’ bout, one of those where a strong case can be made for either man. In one corner you have Pacquiao, the wily veteran who has been in with some of the best boxers ever to grace the canvas. Seemingly with a new lease of life in the fight game, the Filipino is hungry to reclaim the WBA trap in the welterweight division.

But he faces some task against Thurman, a skillful 30-year-old with the scalps of some fantastic fighters on his resumé, including the likes of Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia. Pacquiao would top the lot.

We can look to the sportsbooks – usually the sharpest judges around – to get a flavor of how the fight could pan out. And firms such as Paddy Power believe there is almost nothing in it: at the time of writing, they have Pacquiao as a slight -120 favorite, with Thurman a whisker behind at -110. In short, the bookies aren’t sure who will win either.

There are plenty in the game who have already given their opinion, with perhaps the best welterweight on the planet in Errol Spence Jr telling Boxing Scene that he believes Thurman will get the job done. “I think [Thurman is] gonna win a split decision or he’s just gonna blow [Pacquiao] out,” is his assessment of the action.

Either way, perhaps the best bet is to sit back and enjoy a masterclass from two of the classiest technicians in the fight game.

Styles Make Fights
It’s a cliché, but it’s true: styles really do make fights. On paper there are mouth-watering bouts that never quite live up to the billing in the ring: you can have two fighters who possess similar skillsets but don’t gel or a pair who are too respectful of each other and their contest descends into a jab-and-hold type affair.

‘MGM Grand’ – Jed Scattergood via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

But you wouldn’t expect that scenario to unfold when these two collide in Sin City. Pacquiao’s veteran trainer, the legendary Freddie Roach, claims that his man has rediscovered his ‘aggressive side’ and that the Filipino has been taking his sparring partners to task with devastating effect.

On the other hand, Thurman has come out and said he wants to ‘make a statement’ against the eight-time world champion to let the welterweight division know that, after a two-year absence prior to a warm-up win over Josesito Lopez, he is back and ready to take names.

These two ultra-aggressive stylists should deliver a fantastic tit-for-tat contest and as if the stakes weren’t already high enough Thurman has raised the bar even higher with his trash talk.

The 30-year-old has claimed he wants to ‘destroy’ and ‘annihilate’ Pacquiao in order to set up a mega fight with Spence Jr, even mocking his opponent’s ‘T-Rex arms’ as reported by Boxing News 24.

In reply, the Senator of the Philippines replied by claiming he plans to teach Thurman a lesson. Be sure to take your seat for this one: it could be a classic of the modern age.