We’re less than a day away from the biggest fight of 2019. WBA Super World Welterweight Champion Keith Thurman will look to unify the WBA’s titles when he takes on ‘regular’ titleholder, the legendary Manny Pacquiao. It happens Saturday night in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand.
Let’s talk odds, analysis and my official prediction for the fight.
According to MyBookie.ag, Pacquiao is now a minus-155 favorite and Thurman is a plus-125 underdog. Originally, Thurman was the favorite, but money has come pouring in on Pacquiao over the past two weeks, and it appears the Filipino icon will be favored when the two men climb into the ring on Saturday night.
PREVIEW AND ANALYSIS
Thurman’s Size Advantage
Pacquiao is accustomed to being at a size disadvantage. Ever since he moved up beyond lightweight, he has dealt with taller opponents on a regular basis. That said, we can’t understate Thurman’s two-inch height and reach advantage. He has seemingly made it clear, he plans to utilize his length to keep Pacquiao outside of punching range. He has trash-talked Pacquiao, specifically saying the eight-division world champion has “T-rex arms.”
Thurman won’t just be the longer and taller fighter, he’ll also likely outweigh Pacquiao by a sizable amount on fight night. Thurman has said he could be as heavy as 160 pounds when he steps into the ring. It’s unlikely Pacquiao will be anywhere close to that size–even after rehydration. It remains to be seen if that will be a factor in the bout.
The Southpaw Factor
Pacquiao is a southpaw, and Thurman hasn’t faced a lot of fighters who lead with the right hand. In the past seven years, Thurman has fought three southpaws (Luis Collazo, Robert Guerrero and Carlos Quintana).Thurman dominated Quintana, who was over the hill. He retired from boxing immediately after the fourth-round TKO.
Thurman defeated Guerrero by a wide unanimous decision after dropping him once. Collazo badly hurt Thurman with a left hook to the body, but the latter perservered and ultimately stopped the former ahead of the seventh round. Pacquiao presents a challenge for opponents not just because he’s a southpaw, but he’s also quick, small and he throws punches from unconventional angles. We don’t really know how well a fighter will handle Pacquiao’s rushes until they are in the ring with him.
This isn’t Thurman’s first rodeo. He’s had major fights against the likes of Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia. However, with all due respect to Porter and Garcia, this is a different beast. Pacquiao is one of the most iconic fighters in boxing history, and he is still performing at a high level. He has had a number of fights on this level and above. Most notably, he participated in the highest-grossing fight in boxing history with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015.
If there is an issue of nerves, it’ll most certainly be felt more on Thurman’s side.
Thurman has excellent speed, but I’m not sure if he has the advantage in this fight. Even at 40, Pacquiao has proven to be quicker than most of the men he has faced. The man with the quicker hands could be the one who emerges victorious.
Pacquiao’s power seems to have been greatly compromised by his rise in weight. Aside from his stoppage win over the shopworn and demotivated Lucas Matthysse in July 2018, Pacquiao hasn’t scored a TKO/KO win since he stopped Miguel Cotto in 2009. I’m not sure he has the pop to finish Thurman, or any legitimate welterweight. Because of that, I believe Thurman has the edge in power.
Because I don’t believe Pacquiao can knock Thurman out, this fight can go a variety of ways. It’s possible an aggressive Pacquiao could run into a cleverly laid trap by Thurman and get stopped early. It’s also possible Thurman could look for opportunities to land the big counter shots, and fail to connect. Meanwhile, he could realize that trying to get the better of the exchanges with Pacquiao on the inside isn’t a smart approach.
Thus he could resort to using his jab and employing movement and a more economical punch profile. If he does that, the fight is going to a decision where I believe it’ll end in a draw. I can see a lot of quiet rounds where some judges give Pacquiao an edge because he’s coming forward, and another tabs Thurman’s jab and ring generalship.
So which way am I leaning? I’d have to say it’s the KO victory in favor of Thurman. As a longtime boxing fan, it pains me to see greats lose by KO late in their careers, but I’ve always said this feels like a bad matchup for Pacquiao. I’m sticking to my guns.
Thurman wins by early KO.