Manny Pacquiao
Thurman concedes defeat, thanks Pacquiao for lesson
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - July 22, 2019 - 12:00am

LAS VEGAS – From a snooty air of arrogance, Keith Thurman has suddenly become civil and respectful. Before he took on Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand Garden Arena here Saturday night (yesterday morning, Manila time), Thurman went on a rampage of trash talking that made even the sleazeballs of the fight game cringe.

Thurman openly taunted Pacquiao in a face-to-face TV show and before the press on several stage appearances. He ridiculed Pacquiao for his “T-Rex-like” arms and made fun of his knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez by saying “night-night.” But Thurman crossed the line when he disrespected the Bible and Pacquiao’s Christian beliefs by promising to crucify him and leaving him with a crown of thorns.

But after Pacquiao dethroned Thurman as the super WBA welterweight champion via a split 12-round decision, the American sang a different tune. He ate humble pie in conceding defeat and thanking Pacquiao for the lesson in the ring. Thurman never claimed victory and almost appealed to Pacquiao for a rematch.

Starting like a house on fire, Thurman roared to a strong start only to be decked by a left to the body and right to the head in the first round. Pacquiao dominated the early rounds then Thurman came back to take the middle rounds before the Filipino regained control with a shot to the liver in the 10th round. Thurman nearly fell from the body blow and for a split second, Pacquiao froze as if surprised that the American was close to a collapse.

Pacquiao paid tribute to Thurman after the fight. Not once did he mention anything about teaching Thurman a lesson in manners. “He’s a warrior, very heavy-handed,” said Pacquiao. “His journey doesn’t end with this fight. This is just the start. I think he has a bright future as a boxer.”

Pacquiao said it was one of the toughest fights in his career and likened it to the first Erik Morales bout, the Miguel Cotto match and the four-part series with Marquez. He said this was his last fight of the year. Pacquiao left the door open for one more fight next year, possibly against the winner of the unification battle between IBF champion Errol Spence and WBC ruler Shawn Porter on Sept. 28. He said he’ll be at ringside for the fight.

There was swelling under Pacquiao’s eyes but he was never cut. For five rounds, cutman Mike Rodriguez attended to Pacquiao, using a cold iron plate to prevent additional swelling. That meant entering the ring to face Pacquiao on his stool. “It was more preventive than anything, nothing serious,” said Rodriguez, making his debut in Pacquiao’s corner. “What an honor to work with Manny’s team.”

“It was a war out there,” said trainer Freddie Roach. “I can understand why Manny won’t fight again this year. It’s probably the same with Thurman because they went through a hard battle and need to recover.”

Pacquiao was supposed to fly out on a 10-seater private jet provided by San Miguel Corp. president Ramon S. Ang at two in the morning after the fight. But doctors ordered against it. “If the fight ended in two rounds, Manny would’ve been cleared to take off but since it went 12 rounds, doctors aren’t allowing him to take a flight until 24 hours later,” said a source in Pacquiao’s camp.

Thurman said he lost to the better man in suffering his first setback ever but vowed to come back. Strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune said it was the best Thurman he’s seen over the last three years when he outpointed Porter, defeated Danny Garcia by a split decision and beat Josesito Lopez by a majority verdict. “I was surprised he was that tough,” said Fortune. “He was 10 times better than in any of his recent fights. I knew it would be a difficult fight for Manny but I also knew that Manny prepared well in camp. Thurman came to fight, that’s for sure. If Manny hadn’t prepared as much, who knows what could’ve happened in the fight?”

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