Manny Pacquiao
Abac Cordero
Right hook could lead to Thurman’s undoing
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - July 21, 2019 - 12:00am

LAS VEGAS – Manny Pacquiao demonstrated how Keith Thurman could be vulnerable to a right hook and said it may be the weapon to break the American’s unbeaten record when they meet in a scheduled 12-round bout for the WBA welterweight unified championship at the MGM Grand Garden Arena here this morning (Manila time).

It was in Pacquiao’s MGM Grand Garden locker room after a late lunch following yesterday’s weigh-in when he did a blow-by-blow sequence of landing a right hook to counter Thurman’s right straight. Pacquiao said Thurman has a tendency to leave himself open in between throwing a combination. Timing will be key in Pacquiao’s execution, the same way he poleaxed Ricky Hatton in 2009. That’s why Pacquiao said he finds Thurman a Hatton fight-alike.

Pacquiao’s chief trainer Buboy Fernandez said it’s all about timing, both in defense and offense. When Pacquiao comes in to throw a one-two combination, he won’t stay long in the pocket for Thurman to connect a counter. “One-two then Manny steps back for a few seconds,” said Fernandez. “In defense, Manny will wait for Thurman to throw his jab and before Thurman follows up with an uppercut or overhand right, Manny will hit him with a hook. We prepared hard for this fight. Manny’s in the best condition of his career.”

Strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune said he’s not worried about Thurman’s style. “He tries to fight like Sugar Ray Leonard,” said Fortune. “He may have looked good against slower opponents but he hasn’t fought anyone quite as explosive as Manny who’s got power and quickness.   At best, Thurman has average speed. The quality of opposition that Thurman has faced wasn’t at a high level. Manny’s difficult to hit. Thurman will find that out just as (Marco Antonio) Barrera, (Erik) Morales and (Oscar) de la Hoya found out when they fought Manny.”

Fortune said Thurman made a mistake in hiring former football wide receiver Yo Murphy to handle his strength and conditioning. “I saw videos of Thurman throwing a big medicine ball against a wall and doing muscle drills for the arms,” he said. “Those are football drills, not boxing drills. Thurman may have gotten stronger in the arms but the extra muscle will affect his hand-speed. I think Thurman will be dangerous in the early rounds. But once he tastes Manny’s power, he’ll run just like (Adrien) Broner and fade.”

Pacquiao said Thurman’s hand-speed isn’t in synch with his foot-speed. “He’s slow in throwing punches,” said Pacquiao. “That’s when timing comes in. He’s not as fast with his hands as he is with his feet.”

During the weigh-in, Pacquiao said Thurman wouldn’t stop trash talking. “He tried to intimidate me,” smiled Pacquiao. “He told me he’s ready for me. But I’m wondering if he’s ready to attack or ready to run. I weighed in at 146 1/2 pounds which was my target. I could’ve weighed less if I had worked out the day before but I only did some rope work. If I took off my shorts, I would’ve weighed less. For the fight, I expect to weigh about 150. I don’t know how much Thurman will weigh for the fight. That’s up to him. But if he bulks up a lot, it will slow him down some more.”

Pacquiao said he’s dedicating the fight to his country and countrymen. “This is for our country,” he said. “I hope to bring honor to our country. Don’t worry. God will protect me and give me strength. I’m praying to God for the strength to win convincingly.”

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