40-year-old Manny Pacquiao fights Keith Thurman July 20
By Bill Tibbs
In little more than a month, on July 20, live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Manny Pacquiao will challenge Keith Thurman for the WBA Super world welterweight title.
Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KO’s) continues to refuse to act his age, and boxing fans love him for it.
The full time Philippines senator, who routinely trains after long days of senatorial duties, maintains a pace that would make coffee nervous. Manny has always had seemingly boundless energy and maintains a schedule that would be a task for men half his age.
Pacquiao and his team (trainers Buboy Fernandez, Freddie Roach and Justine Fortune) recently relocated from General Santos City in the Philippines to the Wild Card Boxing Gym in Los Angeles. Manny is setting up shop for the final phase of his training camp as he heads towards a July 20 date in Las Vegas with Florida’s undefeated, WBA champion Keith “One Time” Thurman (29-0, 22 KO’s)
Pacquiao has a resume that is a virtual who’s who of his era. The 8-time champion, and future Hall of Famer, could easily be taking a few well-paid victory laps as he milks the twilight of his career using the low risk - high reward formula, but that isn’t the Pacquiao way. Instead, on July 20, Manny will saunter into the ring at the MGM in Las Vegas to tackle an undefeated fighter who is considered one of the very best welterweights in the world.
Pacquiao, lauded and loved, is still the underdog in the fight despite how close the odds might get nearer to first bell. But don’t try telling that to the “ Pac-Man” or his team. Whatever odds are out there, Manny will upset them as he has done his whole life.
Growing up, Manny wasn’t supposed to make it out of abject poverty on the streets of the Philippines, wasn’t expected to achieve much in the rugged world of boxing, wasn’t supposed to become a Philippines senator and wasn’t supposed to become a beloved hero seen as a bastion of hope and love to an entire (adoring) country. But, Manny has spent a lifetime doing what he wasn’t supposed to do.
Generally, people aren’t supposed to be boxing in their 40’s, let alone taking on the best in the division. And, if they do, certainly not successfully. But like most other times in his life, Pacquiao, a devout Christian, will bring faith and hard work to the forefront as he looks to show he isn’t done just yet.
In training, Pacquiao looks to still possess his speed, and movement, long a trademark of his rapid fire, 2-fisted attack. And against Thurman, a strong puncher who has power from both the left and right sides, Manny will need all the hand speed and footwork he has.
Everybody keeps saying that one night, as happens to all fighters, Manny will get in there and be old; he just won’t have it anymore. But, while Pacquiao isn’t (understandably) the Manny of years gone by he doesn’t appear to have to act his age anytime soon. And, that is exactly what he plans to show on July 20.
It’s been quite a run for Pacquiao over the last 12 months. He stopped former WBA welterweight champion Lucas Matthyse last July, schooled former 4-division champion Adrien Broner in January to kick off the new year and is now looking to make it 3 for 3 with a victory over the talented Thurman.
In a recent interview Pacquiao made it clear that 40 isn’t a number he’s worried about. The only digits he’s concerned with are win number 62 in bout number 71.
“At age 40 I want to prove I can still beat an undefeated champion”, he said. “ I like being the underdog. It is nothing new to me. It is fun. I have been the underdog my entire life”, he continued. “Keith Thurman does not scare me. Keith Thurman doesn’t intimidate me”, he said, “Keith Thurman inspires me. I am training harder than ever”.
Thurman is younger, stronger, naturally bigger and on paper is supposed to win the fight.
But Manny Pacquiao has spent his entire life doing things he wasn’t supposed to do - don’t be surprised if he does it again on July 20.