Manny Pacquiao is going to square off against Keith Thurman on Saturday, July 20, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Pacquiao, 40, is the current WBA regular welterweight champion. He won the title after he beat Lucas Matthysse in dominating fashion in July 2018. Although many expected the Filipino champion to struggle versus Matthysse, he instead put on an absolute clinic. He dropped Matthysse a total of three times in the third, fifth and seventh rounds, before the fight was ultimately stopped in the seventh round.
It was Pacquiao’s first knockout victory in nine years.
In January 2019, Pacquiao squared off against Adrien Broner. Much as was the case in his prior fight against Matthysse, many expected the Filipino champion to fall to his younger foe. Instead, he put on another clinic, ultimately defeating Broner by way of a unanimous decision. The judges scored it 117–111, 116–112, 116–112, all in favor of Pacquiao.
In his last two bouts, Pacquiao looked crisper and fresher than he had at any point in the last five years. Although many wrote him off after his controversial loss to Joe Horn in front of the latter’s home Australian fans, Pacquiao refused to give in to calls for retirement. Instead, he went to work refining his game, ultimately coming back stronger than he had looked in a very long time.
A simple examination of Pacquiao’s last two fights shows just how different of a fighter he is compared to the one that fell to Horn by unanimous decision in Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia, just two years ago.
Take the Matthysse bout, for example. In that fight, Pacquiao connected on a total of 95 out of 344 punches thrown. That is a 28 percent connection rate. Moreover, he also connected on 44 percent of his power punches. Meanwhile, despite throwing 246 punches, Matthysse landed only 23 percent of his shots – 57 in total. The only round in which he landed double figure shots was the sixth round.
Pacquiao was working Matthysse to such a degree that the latter was forced to take a knee in the fifth round. Ultimately, the last knockdown in that fight happened following a left hook combination from Pacquiao that left Matthysse down for good. The referee started the count and stopped the fight at just under three minutes after Matthysse spit out his mouthpiece.
When it was all said and done, all three judges had it 59 to 53 in favor of the Filipino champ.
Pacquiao looked similarly dominant against Broner. Once in the seventh round it looked like the Filipino star could finish the match early, but Broner tied him up to stop the proceedings. Similarly, in the ninth round Pacquiao connected on a massive left hand that sent Broner tumbling backwards – but ultimately he was able to survive the round and last until the end of the bout.
Needless to say, the judges ruled it in Pacquiao’s favor 117–111, 116–112, and 116–112.
Pacquiao ultimately landed on 42 percent of his 197 power punches thrown against Broner, for a grand total of 82. In terms of total punches, he landed 112 out of 568, for a total of 20 percent.
Broner, meanwhile, landed only 50 out of 295 shots, for a grand total of only 17 percent – the lowest of Broner’s career. Prior to this, his worst performance had come against Jessie Vargas, when he had landed 90 punches – 40 more than he was able to connect on versus Pacquiao.
If the Pacquiao that showed up against Matthysse and Broner shows up against Thurman, the undefeated Super WBA Welterweight Champion could be in for quite a bigger challenge than people initially expected. A lot of people expect Thurman’s power to give Pacquiao trouble, but the fact is that his power seems to become less and less of an issue whenever he steps up in competition. And make no mistake about it – Pacquiao is a step up.
There is a very good chance Pacquiao will emerge from this upcoming bout victorious, and when he does, don’t be surprised if he calls out his old foe – Floyd Mayweather Jr.
As Game 7 previously reported, a repeat performance against Mayweather would make a lot of sense for the Filipino star on a variety of levels.