Manny Pacquiao vs. Keith Thurman Pick & Odds
Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) vs. Keith Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs)
When: Saturday, July 20, 2019
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
Weight Class: WBA Welterweight Title
Betting Odds: Manny Pacquiao (+130), Keith Thurman (-150) (Mybookie)
Manny Pacquiao takes on Keith Thurman with the WBA Welterweight Title up for grabs in Las Vegas on July 20. For the 40-year old Pacquiao, this gives him a chance to rejoin the welterweight elite, while Thurman has a chance to add a legend to his resume and show he is back and ready to take over. In a welterweight division that is packed with talent and any number of lucrative opportunities, this stands as a crucial bout. Who can get the job done in Pacquiao vs. Thurman?
Pacquiao has held up reasonably well and is on a little roll against after scoring conclusive wins over Lucas Matthysse and Adrien Broner in his last fight. The division underwent a youth-movement and losses to Mayweather and a controversial one to Jeff Horn took Pacquiao off the A-list. A win over an unbeaten champion in this fight allows him to reclaim that position. Thurman, meanwhile, is ten years Manny’s junior at 30. He won his last fight against Josesito Lopez, It was his 29th straight pro win and ended a two-year layoff.
When looking at this fight, many will point to Pacquiao’s age. The memory fails to recall any 40-year old welterweights who made much of an impact. And on top of the chronological age is untold mileage. He first won a world title at 112 pounds at 19 years of age. He has since risen up in weight numerous times, fighting tough opposition the entire time. It’s really the main drawback when betting Pacquiao at this level. Will he hold up? Sure, he has looked refreshed in a sense in recent outings and has kept the overall slippage to a minimum when it appeared he may have lost his touch. But even in a fight he should have won against Jeff Horn, one could sense his powers of resistance were waning. And Keith Thurman could be a bigger handful than Horn was on that night.
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I actually think more questions loom in the other corner. Thurman is an old 30. An elbow injury contributed to his long layoff and in his comeback fight in January, he didn’t look great. Josesito Lopez may have been inspired, but the Thurman of a few years ago wouldn’t have been pushed to such an extent, winning just a majority decision and even getting hurt along the way. Thurman was a handful when he was active and when his career was really cooking. But you take a little edge from that fighter and it’s a different picture. Pacquiao has been more-active and is more tempered for a punishing and demanding fight at the moment.
Thurman, again, was making a lot of noise. With wins over Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter, he surged to the front of the division, but has since been passed by a few guys. His body began to betray him and that right elbow renders a major weapon compromised. It’s not just the physical wear and tear, but the mental component that plays into it, as well. Can he wield that weapon as freely and sharply as he needs to? Against a speedy southpaw sharp-shooter like Manny, that’s not a weapon Thurman can afford to not be at 100%. I don’t think this is the same Thurman from 2015. And even that version was getting by without much slack. There was a razor-close fight with Porter. And Thurman’s power decreased as the opposition’s quality increased, with five of his last 6 wins coming on points after he started off 23-0 with 21 KOs.
Thurman isn’t the type of fighter one figures will shine if in diminished form. His power at this level isn’t always fight-changing. He doesn’t have great speed or off-the-charts boxing skill. At his best, he parlayed all-around solid fundamentals with a lot of physicality and overall strength into a formidable fighting-machine. Add some age, rust, wear, and a compromised right hand and suddenly, you don’t have the world-beater you once had. At 30, Pacquiao had some of his best work ahead of him. At the same age, Thurman is on the homestretch and already looking a bit frayed around the edges.
It bears repeating that Pacquiao is certainly not a foolproof commodity at 40 with over two decades at the top. But he has looked pretty good lately—there’s no denying that. He’s still among the fastest fighters in the world and will have a pronounced edge in this matchup. To a large extent, he has managed to reverse what looked to be the onset of irreversible erosion. He still has a lot of pop and is fine form heading into this bout. With his hand and foot speed, abundance of upper-body movement, and fighting-spirit, won’t he do better than Lopez did against Thurman? When Pac holds a major speed advantage, as he will against Thurman, his power comes more to the surface, as he can sit down on his shots more. Speed was always a matchup issue with Thurman, as he showed even in his prime with his difficulties with Porter in a razor-close win. And that was peak Thurman, something that might not surface in this fight.
We should be seeing a version of Pacquiao that is at the peak of urgency. At this age and with the influx of younger big names at 147 pounds, a loss would be catastrophic. He has no room for mistakes. What could result is a more-focused and merciless Pacquiao. If he wants a taste of these big-dollar fights that would loom if he wins, he can’t leave any stone unturned with Thurman. That goes for his preparation and in-ring demeanor. And beyond what’s going on in his head, he’s still a mega-talent in this sport. When you win titles in eight weight classes and still appear in big fights after over two decades of world championship competition, it speaks for itself.
If Thurman somehow materialized in the ring as a fairly-close representation of his peak self; this will be a tough fight for Pacquiao. At his best, Thurman is an awfully-tough out—a professional and resolute fighter with a good vision of the fight and a lot of ability. He is simply a very robust physical force at 147 pounds. I just don’t think time has been kind to “One Time” and that stylistically, Pacquiao is all wrong for him. I’m taking Manny Pacquiao at an underdog price.
My Prediction to Win the Fight:
I’m betting on Manny Pacquiao at +130 betting odds. One can see how some different factors line up to lead to Pacquiao being an underdog. I still think this is mispriced, as it is Thurman who is a more-dicey proposition at this point. For a fighter who used to almost always get poor value, we’ve come full-circle where the value-pick is actually Pacquiao.