Tom Brady still sling a football for the Patriots past the age of 40 and may still be the best quarterback in the NFL and Manny Pacquiao won a tough fight against an undefeated younger opponent. This was a close fight in which Keith Thurman reverse his usual MOI of being a fast starter and often found himself in pitch battles over the second half of fights. Part of the reason for that was Pacquiao, who came out smoking, moving side to side while landing his jab that set up a right-hand hook that sent Thurman down in the first round.
Pacquiao dominated the early rounds and I had him winning the first three rounds. Thurman jab was ineffectual throughout the bout and that is one of his key weapons. Pacquiao won the early rounds and had nice lead on the scorecards going into the second half. In the fifth round, the Pac Man nailed Thurman with a vicious body-shots.
From the sixth, the momentum seemed to change as Thurman connected on power shots. In the ninth round, Thurman forced Pacquiao briefly on the rope but Pacquiao landed a vicious left to Thurman body at the two-minute mark of the tenth round that hurt Thurman and forced Thurman to retreat. This disrupted Thurman momentum and allowed Pacquiao to regain control of the fight. Both fighters landed flurry of punches in the final round but Pacquiao won the round and clinch his victory.
Compubox numbers showed the closeness as Thurman landed a few more punches and nearly 90% of his punches were power shots. He was also more accurate and his 190 plus power shots were more than any other fighters landed on Pacquiao, but Pacquiao showed a variety of punches including the jabs which he landed consistently throughout the bout. He threw more punches and showed himself in excellent shape as he withstood the Thurman onslaught over the second half of the fight. Thurman has been an effective jabber but Pacquiao neutralized his jab.
I scored this 115-112 for Pacquiao and two of the judges agreed and while a case could be made for the third judge 114-113 score in favor of Thurman, most observers agreed with the two judges and yours truly, Pacquiao won. Thurman did not dispute the decision, so even Thurman acknowledge that he didn’t win the fight.
The Welterweight division is loaded at the top and the elite fighters are very close to each other in ability and this fight was no different. Over the past few years, Garcia, Porter, Spence, Jr. Thurman and now Pacquiao been involved in close decision in key championship bouts. With the exception of Spence defeating Brook in England with an eleventh-round knockout, these other fights with the top elite Welterweight ended up going the distance.
Garcia, Porter, Spence Jr., Crawford, Thurman, and now Pacquiao makes up a deep elite fighting core that close to each other in ability. While Spence, Jr. and Crawford are recognized as the best, much of that due to that both fighters are undefeated, the other top fighters can certainly beat either one.
Thurman place in the division is unsettled but he will get another shot at the title. He is too good of a fighter not to. Pacquiao is going to wait until 2020 to fight again but for now, he will be working as a Philippines’ Senator.
Porter fights Spence, Jr. for Spence version of the belt and this will start the process of setting up other big fights in the division. What Pacquiao did was incredible to be able fight at this level against top-flight competition at the age of 40. It wasn’t that long ago when he lost to Jeff Horn that many were wondering if Pacquiao hit the end of the road as a fighter. The critics were wrong.