Filipino idol Manny Pacquiao dropped Keith Thurman in round one and won a close split decision to earn a welterweight world title Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
“It was fun,” said Pacquiao. “My opponent is a good fighter and boxer. He was strong. I’m not that kind of boxer who talks a lot; we were just promoting the fight. I think he did his best, and I did my best. I think we made the fans happy tonight because it was a good fight.”
The sell-out crowd of 14,356 got treated to great action from the start, as an exciting first round was capped off by Pacquiao dropping Thurman for the first time in his career with a straight right hand late in the round.
“I knew it was too close,” said Thurman. “He got the knockdown so he had momentum in round one.”
Thurman made it into the second round but continued to have trouble with Pacquiao’s right hand, as the future Hall of Famer threw it successfully as a jab and a power punch throughout the fight. Thurman adjusted in the middle rounds and began to try to smother Pacquiao and walk him down, having success when he was able to get his combinations off before his opponent.
Despite blood pouring from his nose from round four on, Thurman was able to land powerful combinations on Pacquiao for much of the second half of the fight, but was never able to hurt Pacquiao or score a knockdown of his own.
“I wish I had a little bit more output to go toe to toe,” said Thurman. “I felt like he was getting a little bit tired, but he did have experience in the ring. My conditioning and my output was just behind Manny Pacquiao’s. I would love the rematch.”
In round 10, Pacquiao’s landed a strong left hook to the body that clearly hurt Thurman and forced him to spend much of the remainder of the round backpedaling. The CompuBox scores were indicative of the close nature of the fight, with Thurman out landing Pacquiao 210 to 195, while Pacquiao was busier throwing 686 punches to 571 from Thurman.
“I really love the fans,” said Pacquiao. “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.”
Pacquiao had a large advantage in jabs landed, connecting on 82 to Thurman’s 18. The 192 power punches landed by Thurman was the most in 43 Pacquiao fights that CompuBox has tracked. Round-by-round, the two fighters were only separated by more than five landed punches in rounds two, seven and nine.
After 12 rounds, the judges reached a split decision, with one judge scoring the fight 114-113 for Thurman, overruled by two judges scoring it 115-112 for Pacquiao, who captured the WBA welterweight championship at 40-years-old.
“You get blessings and lessons,” said Thurman. “Tonight was a blessing and a lesson. Thank you everybody, and thank you Manny Pacquiao.”
“I think (I will fight) next year,” said Pacquiao. “I will go back to the Philippines and work and then make a decision. I do hope to be at the (Errol) Spence vs. (Shawn) Porter fight on September 28.”