Early rounds could produce some fireworks
Trainer Freddie Roach likes the idea of eight-time division champion Manny Pacquiao attacking Keith Thurman from the get go when the two champions meet next month in Las Vegas.
“I’m going to have Manny go out quick and put it on him right away and remind him of what he doesn’t like about the sport,” Roach told the Press Telegram last week.
Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs) apparently has a similar strategy-one that he relayed to Dennis Taylor and me on The Ringside Boxing Show a few weeks ago.
“I have a plan on the fight of really testing him,” said Thurman. “And testing myself and making a really exciting fight for the fans. And trying to see if I can make him make a mistake early.”
Pacquiao, 40, has looked extra sharp in training-something that Thurman has noted.
“He’s been looking great,” Thurman said. “Anyone who follows his Instagram says his hand speed is tremendous.”
Roach feels that Pacquiao (61-7, 39 KOs) can take advantage of Thurman’s most recent performance.
“Thurman’s a little bit slowed,” said Roach alluding to Thurman’s fight last January with Josesito Lopez. “He’s faded a little bit.”
Thurman was stunned in round six by Lopez and struggled to win the fight by majority decision. He said his time away from the ring, due to injuries, affected him.
“I definitely felt ring rust that night,” Thurman said. “There were times were there certain combinations I wanted to throw but they weren’t really coming out. I was little hesitant to do what was on my mind.
“But I’ve taken the momentum of that (Lopez) training camp into this training camp. This training camp is already a far better camp for this fight.”
Many figured that Pacquiao’s career was over when heavy underdog Jeff Horn mauled and brawled his way to a questionable victory two years ago. Not Pacquiao. The Senator from the Philippines took a year off and rolled to victories over Lucas Matthysse and Adrien Broner.
Pacquiao has found plenty of motivation as he prepares to fight the 30-year-old Thurman.
“Manny loves beating undefeated fighters, especially the younger ones,” Roach said. “Heck, at this stage of the game, everyone Manny faces is younger. But that makes it fun for Manny. And when Manny is having fun, his opponents had better watch out.”
Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman will battle in a welterweight world title attraction that headlines a PBC on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View event, Saturday, July 20, live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.