Ahead of their mouth-watering showdown at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas on July 20th, world-class welterweights Keith Thurman (29-0, 22 KO’s) and Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KO’s) came face-to-face for the first time, with the 30-year-old Thurman promising gathered media that ‘Pacquiao will disappear’.
Thurman – known as ‘One Time’ – returned to action in January with a majority decision victory over Josesito Lopez. Though an entertaining affair, the WBA Super world welterweight champion admitted he was far from his best after a 22 month injury layoff, but now believes the time is right to show ring legend Pacquiao ‘where the exit is’. He said:
“Pacquiao wants a challenge and I’m very grateful to be sharing a ring with a legend. If you understand boxing history, you know that times change. I believe 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 Manny Pacquiao, what he did to Oscar De La Hoya.
“This is a big fight. I’ve waited 22 months to get back in the game. We had our ups and downs, but Keith Thurman is back on the rise. I’m going to make a big statement.
“I’m excited to be the guy who shows Manny Pacquiao where the exit is. He’s a legend who’s done great things. But I’ve never lost to a fighter who’s lost seven times. I have no intention of losing this fight and I don’t see him winning in any shape or form.
“Speed, power and overall ring IQ will be the difference. I’m one of the smartest fighters in the sport. I always find a way to win. I know Pacquiao comes in shape, but he’s going to fall short of that finish line.”
Eight-division world champion Pacquiao, now 40 years of age, reiterated that he remains hungrier than ever ahead of his clash with the American Thurman. The WBA Regular welterweight champion was quick to pay homage to his opponent, acknowledging he would be facing a ‘great fighter’. The Philippines icon, however, does believe that father time has not quite caught up with him just yet ahead of what he called a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ showdown.
“I’ve never been scared of a challenge. I’m so excited for this fight against an undefeated champion. He’s the kind of fighter that you can’t underestimate. His record and success gives me more motivation to work hard. I will make sure that I’m 100 percent and ready for this fight. We’ll find out what happens on July 20, but it’s going to be exciting. I like being the underdog for this fight because that gives me more focus in training.
“I chose Keith Thurman because he’s undefeated and I want to prove that at age 40 I can still beat a great fighter like Keith. My time is not yet over. My journey is continuing. I’m going to prove that and more on July 20. I will work hard for this fight. I haven’t felt this motivated and excited since the Oscar De La Hoya fight. I feel like I’m back against the best fighters in the world.”
“Fans should watch this fight because it’s a once in a lifetime showdown. We’re going to bring action and I’m confident I will be victorious.”