Pacquiao decks Thurman in the first round and wins by a split decision.
Manny seals it in Las Vegas
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - July 28, 2019 - 12:00am

LAS VEGAS — It was Manny Pacquiao’s toughest fight in years because Keith Thurman not only tested his durability at 40, but also landed the most power shots on the fighting senator in over 40 fights since stats were used to track his performance.

Pacquiao and Thurman at the weigh-in with Narvacan Mayor Chavit Singson, MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons and lawyer Tom Falgui behind

 Pacquiao and Thurman gave it all they had in the ring before a sellout crowd of 14,356 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. They battled from start to finish as fans were constantly up on their feet, applauding the effort of two gladiators out to settle who should rightfully sit on the WBA welterweight throne. It didn’t matter if the fans were celebrities or not. Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Kawhi Leonard, Ruffa Gutierrez, Marc Nelson and Jokoy were caught up in the frenzy of the action just like everyone else.

Miss Universe Catriona Gray waved the Philippine flag in the ring before and after the fight.

Thurman, 30, went overboard in hyping the fight, vowing to “crucify” Pacquiao and leave him with a crown of thorns. In a face-to-face TV encounter, Thurman told Pacquiao to retire from boxing and play basketball with friends instead. He also mocked Pacquiao by describing his arms as being “short as a T-Rex” and even called him a “dinosaur.” Pacquiao never stooped down to engage Thurman in a verbal tussle and smiled off the rants, saying he’d rather let his fists do the talking.

Mommy Dionisia was peeved by Thurman’s rants and asked her son to teach the brash American a lesson in the ring.

Both fighters worked eight weeks to prepare for war. Pacquiao opened camp in Manila then moved to Los Angeles before descending on Las Vegas the Monday before the fight that was held Saturday night.  Unlike Pacquiao, who was constantly mobbed by fans while running outdoors or training in the gym, Thurman labored in virtual seclusion in Florida with trainer Dan Birmingham, nutritionist Kimberley Doehnert and strength and conditioning coach Yo Murphy. When they showed up for the weigh-in the day before the fight, the hard work was evident. The protagonists easily made weight, each scaling 146.5 pounds.

Pacquiao is embraced by his daughters Princess and Queenie while wife Jinkee and sons Jimuel and Michael look on in the locker room after the fight.

Pacquiao’s entrance to the ring was dazzling with Miss Universe Catriona Gray waving the Philippine flag. Thurman’s march wasn’t as dramatic. When the bell sounded to start hostilities, they charged at each other like raging bulls. Pacquiao landed a left hook to the body and a right hook to the jaw to send Thurman down for a mandatory eight-count in the first round.  The Filipino icon controlled the tempo in the first five rounds, then Thurman started to make headway.  Thurman found his range in the middle rounds as Pacquiao slowed down, pacing himself for a late assault. In the 10th round, Pacquiao connected with a left hook to the liver, doubling up Thurman who spat out his mouthpiece into his glove as he ran for cover.  That broke Thurman’s momentum and paved the way for Pacquiao to seal it. The bout went the distance and Pacquiao won by a split decision.

Pacquiao acknowledges the cheers of the crowd after wresting the super WBA crown from Thurman.

Thurman conceded defeat and ate humble pie.  Pacquiao was typically gracious in victory, saying he was pushed to the limit by the “heavy-handed” Thurman. He said he’ll now focus on his Senate duties and return to the ring next year. Retirement from boxing remains an option but isn’t likely to happen in the near future as Pacquiao said that, for as long as he is able to bring honor to the country and unite Filipinos with his exploits, he’ll continue fighting.  Defying Father Time is something Pacquiao has turned into a habit.

Pacquiao demonstrates to the author Joaquin Henson how his right hook will find Thurman’s jaw before the fight.


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