Keith Thurman on Tuesday said he plans to send Manny Pacquiao into retirement when they battle for the world welterweight title on July 20.
To describe how their tussle at MGM Grand in Las Vegas will turn out, the American fighter referenced an iconic bout involving his multi-titled opponent.
“With all respect, (Pacquiao’s) a legend, he’ll always be remembered in the sport, but I’m doing to Manny Pacquiao what he did to Oscar dela Hoya,” Thurman, 30, said.
Pacquiao famously demolished dela Hoya in December 2008, a bout that saw dela Hoya throw in the towel and quit boxing altogether.
When the emcee at the press conference promoting the Pacquiao-Thurman clash introduced Pacquiao by his day job, as senator, the fact didn’t escape Thurman.
“I’m happy to be sharing the ring with a legend like Manny Pacquiao, but for those who know boxing times change. I believe boxing has come to a new era. Floyd (Mayweather Jr.) is gone, Pacquiao is here, come July 20th he will disappear, OK?” Thurman said.
“You announced him as a senator, he belongs as a senator in the Philippines.”
Thurman has won all 29 of his bouts, but his last fight in January — a majority-decision win over Josesito Lopez — came at the heels of a layoff that lasted nearly 2 years.
Pacquiao, who heads into the bout with a 61-7-2, win-loss-draw record, overpowered Adrien Broner in a lopsided decision victory in January and stopped Lucas Matthysse in July 2018.
“I’ve been boxing for (3) decades and I’ve never been scared or intimidated with an opponent,” Pacquiao said.
“I’m just excited for this fight. I’m fighting undefeated Keith Thurman. He’s the kind of fighter that you can’t underestimate. (The fact that) he’s undefeated gives me more encouragement, motivation to work hard.
“I will not predict (an ending to) this fight, but I’ll make sure to be 100% conditioned and ready for the fight. Let’s see who’s tougher in the ring. It’s gonna be exciting.”
The prolonged inactivity could be a factor going against Thurman, who had dealt with a variety of injuries and needed some time to recuperate, but he said he isn’t fazed.
“People can say what they want to say about my injuries. I’m a professional athlete. We have our ups and downs, and obviously Keith Thurman is back on the rise,” he said.
Oddsmakers have installed Pacquiao as a tad underdog, and the Filipino world champion, 10 years older than Thurman, said he embraces the tag.
“Sometimes I become careless and confident because I’m favored in every fight, but this time it’s different,” he said.
The thought that he is facing a challenger with an unblemished mark enticed Pacquiao to pick Thurman.
“I want to prove that at the age of 40 I can still beat an undefeated fighter,” Pacquiao said.
“Like I said, my time is not yet over. My journey will continue. That’s what I want to prove.”