Blessings and Lessons: Pacquaio vs. Thurman


By: Kirk Jackson

“This is a beautiful night of boxing, Manny Pacquiao is a truly great legendary champion, he got the victory over me. I wish I have a little more output to go toe-to-toe,” said Keith Thurman (29-1, 22 KO’s) in a post-fight conference after suffering his first professional defeat to Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KO’s)

“You gave blessings and lessons, and tonight is a blessing and a lesson, Thank you, Manny Pacquiao.”
Sometimes people want to look the part and speak the part, but ultimately, it’s extremely difficult to be the part.

Not many can do it. It’s what separates the pedestrian from the very good, the very good from the great, the great from the extraordinary and the extraordinary from legendary.

This past weekend, Keith Thurman aimed to leap towards legendary status, by claiming the head of a legend, but fell a bit short.

To quote famous American author James Weldon Johnson, “Young man, young man, your arm’s too short to box with God.”

Timing is the variable in this scenario, in which makes the tale of Manny Pacquiao vs. Keith Thurman most intriguing.

Perception is Thurman, the younger fighter at age 30, has time on his side against the 40-year-old Pacquiao.

However, Pacquiao did not look 40-years-old in the ring the past weekend. It appears he didn’t just take a sip from the fountain of youth, he dove in the Ra’s al Ghul’s Lazarus pit.

As renowned trainer and boxing analyst Teddy Atlas alluded to, in a recent post-fight interview in the aftermath of Pacquiao-Thurman, the timing of their bout favored Pacquiao, due to the inactivity of Thurman.

Atlas questioned, “Is it worse to be old or inactive? Yeah Manny is 40-years-old, but Thurman was off for two years without a fight and only had one fight back. Inactivity can make you look old.”

“Again whatever he is drinking, I want some of it. Whatever supplements he is taking, I want some of it. He’s a special combination of speed, power and tenaciousness, mental toughness.”

While bestowing credit towards the newly crowned WBA (Super) welterweight champion in this interview, there were a few shots fired (supplements reference) – albeit along with insightful analysis of the stylistic breakdown between the two fighters.

When it comes to wins, losses and the timing at when they occur, context matters right? In spite of the observations and insight from Atlas, this win for Pacquiao is arguably his greatest win due to the difference in age of his opponent.

Now if Thurman were to have emerged victorious over Pacquiao, would he have received the same measure of credit? More than likely no, but what if’s do not matter.

Although Thurman lost to a 40-year-old fighter, that fighter has a lot left in the tank.

“I really love the fans,” said Pacquiao in an interview after the fight.

Gracious in victory, the future Hall of Famer acknowledged his toughness and how he is blessed to come out with the victory.

“Thank you so much for coming here and witnessing the fight. I’m sure they were happy tonight because they saw a good fight. Even though Thurman lost, he did his best. He’s not an easy opponent. He’s a good boxer and he’s strong. I was just blessed tonight.”

What happens from here with Pacquiao? Writing and passing laws, debating bills and amendments currently in place, and other duties as senator. But what’s next boxing wise?

“I think I will fight next year. I will go back to the Philippines and work and then make a decision,” said Pacquiao.

“I hope to be at that (Errol) Spence-(Shawn) Porter fight on Sept. 28.”

Although Thurman wants a rematch, maybe a date with the winner of Spence and Porter awaits Pacquiao for a huge showdown at some point in 2020.

Or possibly the elusive bout with Terence Crawford – who’s been dying to test his skills against Pacquiao. Mikey Garcia or Danny Garcia are lucrative options as well.

And speaking of lucrative opportunities, the biggest bag would be against the money man himself Floyd Mayweather. Although the likelihood of Mayweather returning is slim to none, stranger things have happened. History indicates anything is possible, especially whenever hundreds of millions are at stake.

What’s next for Thurman? This past weekend, was the “One-Time” he suffered defeat in his professional career. And while displaying heart and a good showing for his fight against Pacquiao, he fell short and did not do the things he discussed leading up to the fight.

Talks of retiring Pacquiao and re-assuming his claim as top dog in the welterweight division.

But as a great sportsman, Thurman didn’t complain about the decision during his post-fight interview with FOX’s Heidi Androl. “One-Time” also wanted to make amends, requesting a rematch.

“I knew it was too close,” Thurman said. “You know, he got the knockdown, so he had momentum in round one. I wanna thank the fans, thank everyone for coming out. This was a beautiful night of boxing.”
“Manny Pacquiao is a truly great, legendary champion. He got the victory over me. I wish I had a little bit more output, to go toe-to-toe. I felt like he was getting a little bit tired, but he did have experience in the ring. My conditioning, my output was just behind Manny Pacquiao. It was a great night of boxing. I would love the rematch. It is what it is, baby.”

According to CompuBox’s unofficial statistics, Thurman landed more overall punches than Pacquiao (210-of-571 to 195-of-686). CompuBox counted more power punches for Thurman (192-of-443 to 113-of-340) and more jabs for Pacquiao (82-of-346 to 18-of-128).

For Thurman, his team and his supporters, there’s good and bad he can take away from the fight. There’s definitely “lessons” learned he can employ progressing forward. Even Pacquiao stated this isn’t the last we’ll see of Thurman.

It would be a mistake to condemn Thurman and write him off due to this defeat. Pacquiao is a prime example that fighters can bounce back from defeat and achieve something greater.

The biggest lesson Thurman can employ moving forward, is to never underestimate the opponent. He may have prepared his body physically to the best shape possible given his circumstances, but there were other elements that may have needed more preparation.

From a strategic standpoint, standing toe-to-toe with Pacquiao is not a good thing. From a sweet science perspective in general, the key is to hit and not get hit.

Pick spots to attack and if you’re going to face a fighter with fast hands and reflexes, you may want to have your guard up.

Far too often, Thurman placed most of his weight on his front foot, leaning in and while having his left hand down, facing Pacquiao. That’s how he got knocked down in the first round, when Pacquiao leaped in and exploded on him.

Due to these key errors and lack of preparation, he got punched more often than he anticipated.
Speaking of preparation:

Can’t tell a grown man what to do, but gambling a night before the biggest moment of your professional career is probably not the wisest thing to do.

Everything from dismissing Pacquiao’s size, to T-Rex arm comments, to using this as a “get back fight” as opposed to the most crucial test of his career, to various tactical errors – indicate the lack of respect for the game and this defeat was reminder. Thurman was only cheating himself and this may be a valuable lesson that helps him down the line.

Another lesson is be prepared for what you ask for, because Thurman got what he asked for.

The Clearwater native sought out that one opportunity, that one bright moment, for that stage to show the world what he is made of. He relished the opportunity, to live out his dream and to test a legend. He savored the opportunity, to punch a senator. It just so happens, that senator punched back and he packed quite a punch.

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