Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Examining Thurman-Pacquiao

The fight between undefeated WBA Welterweight champion Keith Thurman and future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao on July 20th was one of the most anticipated encounters of 2019. While some may say that any fight that features a fighter of Pacquiao’s stature in the sport, particularly at this stage of his career, the bout did have an added element of intrigue attached to it. In previewing this fight, this observer referred to the encounter as a classic scenario of youth versus experience. Despite having considerably more experience than his opponent, the intriguing question in the build-up to this fight was whether or not Pacquiao at forty years old still had the skills, timing, and reflexes necessary to compete with a younger and unbeaten world champion in his prime. It did not take long for Pacquiao to answer that question.

When the fight began Pacquiao made it immediately apparent that his hand speed and timing were still among the best in the sport as he knocked the champion Thurman down with a short right hook to the head. Although this was in reality a flash knockdown, it did send the message that Pacquiao had come to fight. What impressed me about Pacquiao’s approach in this fight was not only his hand speed, but also his footwork and lateral movement. As has been the case throughout his career, the combination of effective footwork, lateral movement, timing, and hand speed worked to Pacquiao’s advantage.

While there were several moments throughout this fight where one might argue the rounds were close due to Pacquiao choosing to pick his spots rather than stand and trade punches with Thurman, the champion’s most effective moments throughout the fight were periods where he was able to back Pacquiao up. In particular, moments where he was able to get Pacquiao on the ropes. Thurman however, never seemed to be able to break the rhythm that Pacquiao was able to establish early in the fight and could not neutralize Pacquiao’s movement for a sustained period of time.

Although Thurman was able to out land Pacquiao according to CompuBox statistics 210 of 571 total punches to Pacquiao’s 195 of 686, it was Pacquiao who was overall the more effective fighter throughout in this observer’s eyes. What appeared to be a clear win for Pacquiao from my perspective as I scored the fight 119-109 in his favor, turned into somewhat of a controversial decision when the official decision, a split decision in Pacquaio’s favor was announced, with one judge scoring the fight in Thurman’s favor by a margin of 114-113.

The scorecard in question rendered by Judge Glenn Feldman did not appear to be an accurate assessment of what took place in the fight. While this is strictly the opinion of yours truly, it is important to note that Feldman has served as a judge in over one thousand professional fights in his career and it goes without saying that not everyone is going to agree with a judge’s score every time out. It did however, bring back memories for this observer of Manny Pacquiao’s first fight against Tim Bradley. A fight many, including yours truly felt Pacquiao won convincingly, but one that he ultimately came out on the losing end of a controversial split decision.

The scorecard of Glenn Feldman was overruled by Judges Dave Moretti and Tim Cheatham, who each scored the fight 115-112 for Pacquiao. Although the scorecards of Moretti and Cheatham were closer in margin compared to that of this observer, the result was the same. With Pacquaio once again a Welterweight world champion, the natural question to ask is what’s next? For the time being, Pacquiao will be inactive as the Philippine. Senator must fulfill those commitments before resuming his career as a boxer. This could mean that Pacquiao will be inactive for the remainder of 2019 as he suggested shortly after his victory over Keith Thurman.

The question then becomes who could Pacquiao face in 2020? While it’s not out of the realm of possibility to think that Pacquiao could face Keith Thurman again in a rematch as Thurman was a longtime champion prior to losing to Pacquiao, the most logical option in this observer’s eyes is for Pacquiao to face the winner of the upcoming IBF/WBC Welterweight world championship unification bout between undefeated IBF champion Errol Spence and two-time world champion Shawn Porter, who currently holds the WBC crown.

The 147lb. Welterweight division has historically been one of Boxing’s most storied and talent-deep divisions. There is no doubt in my mind that not only will this continue well into the future, but with Manny Pacquiao now once again one of the world champions in the division, there will be no shortage of intriguing fights that could be made and there will obviously be plenty of money to be made.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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