By: Waqas Ali
Boxing’s only eight division titlist Manny Pacquiao has been in a battle of verbal exchanges with Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman over the possibility of retirement.
The pair are scheduled to meet in a welterweight clash on July 20 for a Fox pay-per-view event at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Thurman (29-0) will be defending his WBA welterweight belt for a third time against Pacquiao and has vowed to end the Filipino’s career in retirement.
“If you understand boxing history, you know that times change,” Thurman said.
“Boxing is in a new era. Come July 20, Pacquiao will disappear. He’ll always be remembered in the sport, but I’m doing to Pacquiao what he did to Oscar De La Hoya. I’m excited to be the guy who shows Manny Pacquiao where the exit is.”
The reference to De La Hoya was when Pacquiao retired the Mexican – American fighter in their 2008 bout. Pacquiao had moved up three weight classes for that bout.
But Pacquiao (61-7-2), who’s been a professional fighter for 24 years, insisted that he’s not ready to retire and will decide on his own terms.
“He’s saying things before we fight, but I will send a message to him in the ring about exactly who he’s fighting; he will come to know that,” Pacquiao said Wednesday as he and Thurman stopped at the Beverly Hills Hotel to promote their bout.
“No man can dictate when I’m going to retire.
“I’ve been in this sport two decades. Nobody intimidates me. Thurman should respect his elders, especially this elder.”
When the 40-year-old legend spoke to reporters at a press conference on Wednesday, they asked him on his thoughts regarding Thurman considering retirement, should he lose to Pacquiao, he simply said: “He will retire.”
There was a huge distinction from both fighters in their recent bouts.
Pacquiao fought former four-division titlist Adrien Broner in January and outclassed him for 12 rounds.
The speed. The timing and the footwork was executed really well and for most of the fight Broner could not respond to the punches utilised by Pacquiao.
According to Compubox, Pacquiao landed 112 of 568 punches (20 percent), and Broner connected on 50 of 295 (17 percent).
Many viewers and spectators at ringside felt that it was like the Pacquiao of old. For Broner, it was lowest amount of punches he’d ever landed going the 12 round distance.
Thurman on the other hand fought Josesito López and after a year and a half away from the ring he was pushed to his limits in this bout.
By Compubox statistics, Thurman landed 247 of 899 punches (27%), and Lopez connected on 117 of 513 (22%).
There were times in the fight where Thurman was troubled in the middle rounds and in particular rounds seven and eight.
Though he managed to survive and won on two of the three judges’ scorecards, it had raised doubts of the 30-year-old’s ability to defeat a man of experience like Pacquiao, who was already a 3-weight world champion when Thurman turned pro.
Regarding the purse for the bout, there has been no official confirmation of how much Thurman will be making but sources have indicated Pacquiao will be making at least $20 million for the bout.
This bout is a crucial one for both fighters as one could contemplate retirement higher than the other. Pacquiao in particular had not stated when he would retire specifically but a loss against Thurman could be the option for him.
A second fight with Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather would be a mega sell as boxing fans have been yearning for it since the first. It broke records in gate, television, tickets and purses. But neither Mayweather nor Pacquiao have come close to negotiations.
Thurman, however has stated that if he were to lose to The Fighting Pride of the Philippines, he would possibly consider commentating as a fighting analysis broadcaster.
“Pshh … probably,” Thurman said when asked about retiring if Pacquiao beats him.
“I’d at least think about it. I’d at least be like, ‘Can I do some more commentating or something? Can I do some more commentating?’ Momma said I look good in a suit. I don’t think she wants to see her boy get punched on TV. Getting beat up by an old man.”
It’s really doubtful that this could be the case considering that it would the one loss in his record and that he would still a lot in his ammunition to offer.
Especially when the welterweight division is packed with exceptional talent and potential rivals such Terence Crawford, Shawn Porter, Errol Spence Jr, Danny Garcia and Mikey Garcia.