Pacquiao vs Thurman: The Fight City Picks

It hasn’t exactly been a terrible year, but it’s been far from a great one, when it comes to meaningful, top-level match-ups and big attractions in boxing. And so hardcore fight fans must be forgiven for being a bit star-struck for Pacquiao vs Thurman, a match-up that, on paper, is a showdown between two fighters who can barely claim to be in the top five in their division and whose most vigorous days are no doubt behind them.

Manny Pacquiao is forty; Keith Thurman is coming off serious injuries and hasn’t looked truly impressive for at least three or four years. But no matter: these are two legit big names and in today’s version of pugilism we don’t see big names throw down all that often. And there’s definitely a solid case for this being an intriguing match-up in terms of ring styles and the different weapons each man brings to the fight. Further, the implications of the bout are potentially quite significant as it should lead to even more intriguing matches in the not too distant future. So without further ado, here are The Fight City Picks for Pacquiao vs Thurman. Check ’em out:

Much of what we know about Manny Pacquiao’s ability in recent years has been laid bare, even if only in a few fights. We know he’s older, his legs are giving him issues, and he’s considerably more gun-shy than he was in his prime. But there is a false narrative that Keith Thurman is one of the best welterweights around. “One Time” has assumed a throne without really having to earn it. His two big wins came against fighters who, between them, have one big win at welterweight. Even if he is a very talented fighter, his claim to the throne is hollow.

Thurman defeats Guerrero in 2015: a hollow claim?

That being said, this would be as good a time as any for Thurman to pick Pacquiao off. But stylistically there are a few issues here for “One Time.” Though explosive at times, Thurman is inconsistent with his output and fades down the stretch. He also tends to not move his head, and to hold his right hand low. And we’ve seen him hurt by fighters who don’t punch like even this version of Pacquiao. Additionally, Thurman consistently flounders about when rocked. Against Pacquiao, the hope for Thurman is to wrest control of the pace and range in the early going and get his feet moving, befuddling Manny and keeping him off-balance. But I doubt he’ll be able to keep that up for very long. And I suspect Pacquiao will be able to catch up just enough later in the fight to hurt Thurman and win the rounds required take a (possibly controversial) verdict. Pacquiao by decision.      —Patrick Connor 

During a recent interview, Manny Pacquiao said that Thurman reminds him of Ricky Hatton. Here’s why this is a poor stylistic comparison: Thurman won’t go after Pacquiao, who is sneaky good on the counter, as recklessly as Hatton. In fact, I expect he will treat Pacquiao with respect and box off the back foot. Further, I’m of the opinion that Pacquiao’s recent opposition has flattered him and that Thurman represents the best boxer, stylistically speaking, that Manny will have faced since he fought Floyd Mayweather Jr. almost five years ago. Keith looked rusty against Josesito Lopez, but I think a better prepared “One Time” uses the ring, frustrates Pacquiao with his jab and check left hook (the latter will be especially effective as the Filipino southpaw feints with his right to tee up his straight left), and wins a clear decision.          —Lee Wylie

Did Broner “flatter” Pacquiao?

Manny Pacquiao has been in decline for some time, and while he’s still a good fighter, his recent success has been a bit of a mirage. Outworking Adrien Broner and beating up the shell of Lucas Matthysse doesn’t mean the Pacman can defeat a top talent like Keith Thurman. If this bout was against the version of Pac that demolished Miguel Cotto, then Thurman would be in trouble. But it’s 2019. Thurman is younger, stronger, much larger, and has the footwork to force the smaller man to give chase and walk into counters. I struggle to think of a way Pacquiao can consistently close the gap and win exchanges. Although he may have a few moments, this will be the night that Pacquiao looks truly old. Thurman by wide decision, ten rounds to two.                 –Hunter Breckenridge

Pacquiao’s got this.      — Shakeel Phinn, NABF super middleweight champ (21-2-1)

Pacquiao vs Thurman is a fight that looks more intriguing on paper than it will be in the ring. In their respective primes, Pacquiao and Thurman were explosive fighters who may have paired nicely but with Pacquiao past 40 and Thurman more than two years out from facing a top-level welterweight, we may be looking at a very tactical fight that features plenty of holding and missed punches. Pacquiao will likely be the aggressor, while Thurman will attempt to move and counter punch, occasionally opening up with a combination when he feels the senator is vulnerable. But the Filipino is too experienced and savvy to give Keith too many open looks, and the fight will evolve into a tactical chess match. Thurman’s hunger will lead him to a close victory on the scorecards, but not one that actually elevates him in the red-hot welterweight division.          —Alden Chodash

“One Time” may need to be sharper than he was against Josesito.

I think Pacquiao will outbox him. Thurman won’t be able to deal with Manny’s speed. Pacquiao on points.       — Ian MacKillop, trainer and former IBO champion

Keith Thurman’s recent performances, combined with injuries and inactivity, don’t exactly inspire confidence. And although he possesses undeniable talent, he can be hurt, and he doesn’t appear to carry the same pop and explosiveness as he once did. There’s an aura of fragility surrounding Thurman that doesn’t bode well against the somewhat resurgent Manny Pacquiao, who thanks to a combination of experience, boxing ability, and unorthodox style, should be able to pull off a decision victory. Expect a cagey start with Pacquiao pulling away in the second half of the fight by outworking and outfighting his younger opponent, leading to a clear unanimous decision win.             —Zachary Alapi

Keith Thurman’s last outing was far from impressive, but in my opinion he’s the welterweight champion with the most impressive résumé. I fancy Thurman to win as he’s fresher and also carries the physical advantages going into the fight, but if he shows up as he did against Josesito Lopez, it’s going to be a long night.           —Craig Scott

Pacquiao will outsmart and out-speed Thurman and win a decision. He’s still got it at forty years-old. He’s in the church, remains disciplined, and takes care of his body. Look at Pacquiao’s last fight: he was like a machine, very busy, very effective. Thurman is good, but I wasn’t impressed at all with his performance against Joselito Lopez, not at all. Pacquiao is going to take it.        —Howard Grant, former Olympian and trainer at Grant Brothers Boxing Gym

Pacquiao batters Matthysse.

Speed kills. Obviously, the term is an exaggeration when it comes to the ring, but Pacquiao still has enough nitro in the tank to make it a long night for Thurman. Something seemed to have happened to “One Time” after he took that gut shot from Collazo a few years back. He’s still an excellent fighter, but the promise of yesteryear appears unfulfilled. Thurman won, albeit by a sliver, in a terrific fight with Shawn Porter,  but his lack of interest in facing Errol Spence Jr is telling. Can Thurman pull it off on the 20th? Sure. Will he? I don’t think so. Experience at the highest levels of the game, and a mistakenly written-off skill set, should carry the day for the Filipino icon. Pacquiao by split decision.             —Sean Crose

Two or three years ago, I would have picked the younger and fresher Thurman to beat a forty-year-old Pacquiao. But Thurman’s inactivity coupled with his hard-fought comeback victory over Josesito Lopez have left me unconvinced. He was too easy to hit and took far too many punches in the second half of that fight. Meanwhile, the Pacman showed enough in his wins over Matthysse and Broner to prove that he still has the speed, energy, and ring nous to outfight most welterweights, including the recent version of Keith Thurman. Pacquiao on points.         —Matt O’Brien

Pacquiao’s going to take it. Word around this side of Florida is Thurman’s training camp isn’t going so well.      — Dario Bredicean, super middleweight contender (17-0-1)

If Collazo could hurt Keith, might Pacquiao?

Although it is questionable that Pacquiao is still contesting at the highest level of the sport, he has more than enough to score a decision win against Thurman. In his return fight against Josesito Lopez, Thurman often stood and took flurries of punches, and when unable to hop on his bicycle to flee, “One Time” would sit on the ropes and take more abuse. Pacquiao is a considerable step up in competition compared to Lopez, so unless Thurman begins to look like his former self, Pacman will batter his way to a decision.               —Jeffrey Fuss

Manny is a legend and definitely still has skills, and Thurman’s a very good fighter, so it’s not as if Pacquiao is just looking to cash a check here. But I suspect that “One Time” is going to be better than he showed in his comeback fight against Josesito López and that Pacquiao might be just a notch slower due to age. Thurman is a much better opponent than Broner and Matthysse, so in a match-up that’s pretty even, I’ll pick youth to prevail. Thurman will successfully use his size advantage to keep Pacquiao at a distance for a good chunk of the fight and pile up points. Thurman by close decision.     —Joshua Isard

Thurman has been ridiculing Pac as a “bunny rabbit.” If he’s deluded himself into underestimating Pac, he’s making a huge mistake. Pac might be too much, too soon for the man who in his last fight was nearly knocked out by Josesito Lopez. Bob Arum says Thurman can’t fight anymore. And there was a time Freddy Roach wouldn’t let his aging fighter get anywhere near someone of Thurman’s caliber, but now Freddy “sees what Bob Arum saw.” And so I say: Don’t sleep on the PacMan! If everything is on the up and up in Vegas, Pac very well could win on the cards and he  might even knockout Mr. “One Time.”                —Ralph M. Semien

Thurman has skills but his career has been totally undermined by the Al Haymon philosophy which says boxers should do what they want while almost always playing it safe. I think he’s gotten soft and I think he’s got precious little love for the ring. He’s going to be too defensive as he looks to play it safe and avoid Manny’s power, and then his stamina problems are going to resurface. Meanwhile I think Pacquiao is a man on a mission. He motivates himself because he’s fighting for more than money or fame and this gives him a significant mental edge. I see Pacquiao dominating in the late going as Keith tires and the decision going to the Filipino legend.       — Robert Portis

I think Keith will implement enough movement and defensive tactics to frustrate the Filipino legend, while stepping in on occasion to land big power shots that will push Pacquiao back. Manny’s footwork will be a crucial factor as he tries to use angles and counter, but I don’t see a particularly fast-paced or high volume fight happening. I see Thurman landing enough big shots, while evading most of the Pac Man’s forays, to impress the judges and win on points. Thurman by split decision.               –James Simpson

Will we see this familiar sight again?

No matter how hard I try, I can’t see a 40-year-old Pacquiao pulling this off. Thurman is younger, bigger, stronger and an exceptional fighter in his own right, swift and dynamic with plenty of tactical acumen. Prime Pacquiao could conceivably combat those attributes, but he is not the fireball of old. I see a competitive contest for a few rounds before Thurman accelerates down the stretch, landing eye-catching counters on an advancing Pac and staying largely elusive. Thurman by clearcut, unanimous decision.             — Ronnie McCluskey

Sports picks are little more than guess work but it’s fun to try and predict winners and losers, even though countless unforeseen elements can always determine the outcome. But typically, in a truly big fight, there is no single major factor that renders all others inconsequential; for Pacquiao vs Thurman, that is unfortunately the case. Manny Pacquiao is 40-years-old. Say what you want about Keith Thurman, but he is not Jeff Horn or Jessie Vargas, and he certainly isn’t a washed-up Lucas Matthysse, or a mentally weak pretender like Adrien Broner. No one will be happier than me if I’m wrong and we get to see the always-game Filipino score a remarkable victory over the rarely-game “One Time,” but I certainly wouldn’t bet on it. I would be more apt to put my money on Thurman looking sharper than he did against Josesito Lopez. And even if he doesn’t, all other things equal, youth beats age in boxing, and I suspect that’s what we’ll see on Saturday. Thurman by decision.       — Michael Carbert 

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One thought on “Pacquiao vs Thurman: The Fight City Picks

  • July 18, 2019 at 7:29 pm

    11-8 for the Pac Man. Hmmmm. Not what I expected, although mine was one of the 11 for Pac. All the pros, active fighters, ex-fighter/trainers are unanimously (4/4) calling it for the Pac Man. So very interesting. Looking forward to Saturday. A pretty good match-up given the current corporatist environment where there is a reluctance to put it all on the line.

    Something I didn’t say in either of my pieces is this is a no-win for Thurman in terms of the standings, formal and informal. If he wins, he defeated an old man in the twilight of his career; shouldn’t move him up much in the standings, although it will in Thurman’s personal standings and we won’t hear the last of it.

    If Thurman loses, his rep as one of the best in the hot 147 weight class would seem to be called into question and questions of whether Thurman’s still got it will abound. Certainly “One Time’s” standing cannot but be devalued off a loss to Pac. As stated in the introduction “. . . the implications of the bout are potentially quite significant.”

    More-so for Thurman who is trying to make his star one that is on the ascendant.


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