Three thoughts on Manny Pacquiao’s split decision win over Keith Thurman:
A legend grows
Pacquiao’s decision to challenge Thurman—an elite but flawed 147-pound champion—subjected Pacquiao to some criticism, but what a payoff. Showcasing the same stabbing punching style and a relentlessness rarely seen in recent years, Pacquiao outpointed Thurman, 10 years his junior, en route to a split decision. At 40, Pacquiao was the more active fighter, chasing Thurman around the ring, pressing the action, forcing Thurman to fight defensively. The more prodigious puncher, Thurman could never land the fight-changing punch on Pacquiao. Instead, Pacquiao peppered him with punches, pressing the action and forcing Thurman to fight moving backward all night.
So—where now, Manny?
It’s incredible, really, that we are still here talking about Pacquiao as one of the best fighters in the world. But Thurman entered this matchup with a legit argument to be considered the top 147-pound fighter in boxing, and Pacquiao took the fight to him. He was more athletic than Thurman, more active than Thurman, more committed than Thurman. Incredibly, Pacquiao has positioned himself to be considered boxing’s top welterweight. His activity is reminiscent of a young Pacquiao, and a fight between Pacquiao and the winner of next month’s showdown between Errol Spence and Shawn Porter ranks among the biggest in boxing.
What now, Keith Thurman?
Among the questions Thurman faced coming into this career-defining matchup with Pacquiao: Was he physically the same fighter he was when he outpointed Porter and Danny Garcia two years ago? And did he have the same level of commitment that he did back then? Thurman held up well physically, challenging Pacquiao at many turns. But he did little to show a sense of urgency, allowing Pacquiao to dictate the tempo of the fight. Thurman, 30, has a long way to go, but he will have to recommit himself to the sport to convince anyone that he has what it takes to reclaim a position as one of boxing’s best.