Dream could be a nightmare
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - May 14, 2019 - 12:00am

The training period for the WBA welterweight unification title showdown between “regular” champion Manny Pacquiao and “super” ruler Keith Thurman will likely kick off on Monday, May 27, after the fighters finish a press tour in New York and Los Angeles to promote their scheduled 12-round encounter on July 20. The tour is scheduled in the week of May 20. If training camp opens on May 27, it will mean seven weeks and a few days of preparation for the fight.

 Is there enough time for Pacquiao and Thurman to get ready? Las Vegas international matchmaker Sean Gibbons, representing Pacquiao, said “the Senator feels there is.” Not to worry. Pacquiao will be armed and loaded to battle Thurman. Gibbons said Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions team hasn’t confirmed a venue for the match but the betting is it will be either the MGM Grand Garden Arena or the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Thurman’s last three fights were staged at the Barclays Center in New York so there’s a slight possibility the venue could go to the East Coast. What’s sure is it will be on Fox Sports pay-per-view. Preceding the Pacquiao-Thurman duel on the card is IBF supermiddleweight champion Caleb Plant’s first title defense against unbeaten contender Mike Lee. By the way, Plant is also undefeated and so is Thurman.

With Floyd Mayweather Jr. playing coy to a Pacquiao rematch, the decision on whom to fight next came down to Thurman and Danny Garcia. Pacquiao sent marching orders to his negotiating team to arrange a fight in July because the next available date would be in November. If Mayweather finally agrees to a return match, it could happen near the end of the year so Pacquiao’s handlers probably figured to go ahead with Thurman and clear a date for Mayweather later. A Pacquiao-Mayweather rematch would surely be more attractive if the Filipino icon came in as the undisputed WBA champion.

But right now, Mayweather isn’t in Pacquiao’s immediate agenda. Thurman is. Pacquiao has to not only beat Thurman but win convincingly to seal the deal with Mayweather who’ll surely be lured back into the ring if the price is right.  And the price will be right if Pacquiao trounces Thurman and the paying public demands a return engagement with Mayweather to settle “unfinished business.”

Pacquiao, 40, will be up against a younger Thurman, 30. Age, however, wasn’t a factor when Pacquiao outclassed and outfought Adrien Broner, 29, last January. Thurman, whose father is African-American and mother is of Polish-Hungarian descent, started boxing when he was seven. As an amateur, he posted 76 KOs in 101 wins. As a pro, his record is 29-0, with 22 KOs and one No-Contest. Five of his last six bouts went the distance and he’s coming off a hard-fought win by a majority 12-round decision over Josesito Lopez last January. Thurman took a 22-month layoff from boxing to recover from surgery in his right elbow and an injury in his left hand before facing Lopez.  A crowd of 16,533 showed up for the fight, registering the biggest audience for a boxing show at the Barclays Center.

 Boxing News of London once described Thurman as “charismatic, photogenic and garrulous.” Thurman said his goal is to establish a legacy to cement his place among the legends of the sport. “I just want to keep moving myself up and establishing my legacy,” said Thurman, quoted by Carlos Acevedo in Boxing News. “I want to distinguish myself from the other welterweights. I’m doing this for my career, for my legacy and for the fans. Without the fans, there’s no legacy. I’ve been boxing for over 20 years of my life and I look forward to having some more great years. I’m proud to be living my dream.” Pacquiao could turn his dream into a nightmare.

KEITH THURMAN MANNY PACQUIAO
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