Thurman repeats banter; Pacquiao takes it in stride
Dino Maragay ( - July 18, 2019 - 2:21pm

LAS VEGAS — Manny Pacquiao has gotten used to Keith Thurman’s verbal jabs that when he heard them again — most likely for the last time — all he could do was shake his head, roll his eyes and smile.

For weeks, Thurman had tried — unsuccessfully — to get under Pacquiao’s skin with trash-talk, from vowing to send the Filipino icon to retirement to even threatening him with crucifixion.

If the strong words had any effect on Pacquiao at all, he said it would only be to his advantage.

Thurman — who will put his WBA “super” welterweight title on the line against Pacquiao on Saturday (Sunday, Manila time) — continued running his mouth at the final press conference Thursday (Manila time), saying it puts him in the zone.

“I'm not here to hug Manny Pacquiao. I'm not here to pat him on the back. I'm here to fight him,” the 30-year-old fighter told a packed crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, where the fight would also be staged.

“And so for me, it just puts me into fight mode when I got to let him know he ain’t gonna do something. With those little T-Rex arms, he's about to get beat up,” he added.

Thurman had also been mocking Pacquiao’s arms, comparing them to those of a Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur.

When Pacquiao again heard Thurman’s banter, he knew it was nothing new. 

“I'm just showing my ‘always-smiling’ face,” he responded when asked about the way he reacted to Thurman’s continuing tirades, eliciting laughter from the crowd.

Pacquiao does not succumb to an opponent’s pre-fight talk, and he said Thurman’s antics have only pushed him to train harder.

For the fighting senator, everything he and Thurman do is just business.

“It's nothing personal with him. I just have to do my job,” said Pacquiao.

True enough, despite the tough words that came from Thurman’s mouth, there was no hint of animosity between the two fighters. They posed in the traditional staredown for 15 seconds, hoisting their respective belts — Pacquiao is the WBA “regular” 147-pound champion — then smiled at each other.

In a gesture of friendliness, Pacquiao tapped Thurman on the back a few times before exiting the stage. Three days from now, that would be replaced by hostility atop the boxing ring.

“I get to punch a senator in the face,” said Thurman.

Pacquiao will be more than happy to punch him back.

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