Saturday night, boxing returns to PPV for a big fight as the legend Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2; 39 KO) takes on Keith Thurman (29-0; 22 KO). Fury vs. Schwarz takes place this Saturday, July 20 and airs live on PPV with a fight time of 9:00 p.m. ET.
- Post-Marquez – In 2012, Pacquiao wrapped up his career rivalry against Juan Manuel Marquez, and he wrapped it up face down on the canvas, out cold in a brutal knock-out. He then took a year off, had three pretty dull fights, and generally looked like a fighter on the verge of being done. Then in 2015, he fought Mayweather. He lost, and people hated the fight, but he certainly made a lot of money. Like, a LOT.
- Post-Mayweather – Since that fight, his career has been quite rocky. He beat Timothy Bradley in a (ahem) “rubber match”, then retired. Then returned 7 months later without the support of any networks. He “lost” again to Jeff Horn in summer 2017 and is 2-0 since. Both against name opponents who clearly were a step behind him. All that said, while he’s certainly far from his prime, he’s also yet to look truly washed up in any fight. I keep thinking he will, but it keeps not quite happening.
- 1 KO in past 11 – At one time, Pacquiao was a violent, aggressive fighter who beat up opponents. He brutally stopped Ricky Hatton, then dissected and stopped the super tough Miguel Cotto. In 2009. He then went on a 9 year streak of no stoppages. He snapped that two fights ago, putting Lucas Matthysse down and out, but that lack of killer instinct has been a definite knock on his recent career.
- Outside the ring – To say Pacquiao is a huge celebrity in the Philippines doesn’t begin to do it justice. He was already a massive star when he made the move to politics, and now serves as a Senator. But it’s not all positives, as he has been embroiled in a lot of controversy in recent years, including some pretty horrible comments about same-sex relationships. Once considered the beloved “good guy” in the Mayweather pairing, he’s lost a LOT of support.
- The (former) #1 – Thurman was considered #1 in the heavily stacked Welterweight division at one point, with his undefeated record and big wins over the likes of Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia. Most now have the WBA champ at #3 behind Errol Spence and Terence Crawford.
- Lost momentum – The past few years have been maddening for Thurman supporters. He was given a prime spot when PBC launched in 2015, being featured in the company’s first ever main event and named their first Fighter of the Year. Then he took a year off before returning to beat Porter. Then he took another year off before returning to beat Garcia. THEN he took almost two years off, and when he returned…
- The Lopez fight – …he faced exciting journeyman Josesito Lopez. Now, let me be clear here – I’m a huge Lopez fan, and see him as a fighter who can make fights great. But he came inches away from stopping Keith Thurman, and that just should not have happened. Thurman looked not at all good in that fight, and if he brings that level against Pacquiao, it could go south.
- King of the hill – As I said above, Thurman now sits at #3 in the division behind Spence and Crawford. After them, Porter, Garcia, and Pacquiao make up the next tier of fighters. Credit to Porter and Garcia, who have both been in there against some of their fellow top Welterweights, but the rest haven’t. No Spence vs. Crawford, Spence vs. Thurman, Crawford vs. Thurman, and no one against Pacquiao. Fans are hungry for some clarity in this exciting division that has so many potential marquee match-ups ready to go – this fight is a good step, and could mean big things for Thurman’s career should he win.
What else is on the card?
- Luis Nery (29-0; 23 KO) vs. Juan Carlos Payano (21-2; 9 KO) – This is a quality fight in the 118 lbs. Bantamweight division. Nery is a top 5 fighter who comes in off a fantastic, break-out win over McJoe Arroyo on the Spence vs Garcia PPV. Payano is a solid veteran and a perfect match-up for the rising Nery.
- Sergey Lipinets (15-1; 11 KO) vs. John Molina Jr. (30-8; 24 KO) – A real must-win for Lipinets here. Lipinets sits at the bottom of the Welterweight top 10 thanks to a win over Lamont Peterson, but he had a rocky 2018 with a loss to Mikey Garcia and a move up in weight that led to a win, but a sloppy win over Erick Bone. Molina has been a solid barometer kind of guy who has some good wins and good fights, but frankly has looked less impressive as of late. But he does tend to make fights fun.
- Yordenis Ugas (23-4; 11 KO) vs. Omar Figueroa Jr. (28-0-1; 19 KO) – Here you’ve got Figueroa, who has a lot of hype, is undefeated, yet has seemed to kind of underperform in his career as a whole vs. Ugas, a once hyped prospect who comes in off a loss to Shawn Porter, yet has seemed to kind of overperform in his career as of late. This is just the 3rd fight since 2015 for Figueroa, and no easy out for him at all.
Sure, you could be cynical and say this fight is coming too late, but I actually think it’s the perfect time. Two years ago, it feels like Thurman would have walloped the aging Pacquiao. But now, Pac is not aging as fast as we thought, and it’s Thurman maybe on the slide. Maybe. Which makes this a very tough fight to pick, and certainly one to watch. It also could match-up to be quality action. Add in some fun undercard potential, and this is a card to watch.
Prediction: Controversial Draw
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