Manny Pacquiao vs. Keith Thurman: Iceman John Scully breaks down the fight and picks a winner

Pre-fight analysis: Iceman John Scully

By Amy Green 

pacquiao-vs-thurman July 20
pacquiao-vs-thurman July 20

“For several years now, people have been saying that Manny is slipping and his time is fast approaching its end, and I understand the idea that his career is close to its conclusion, but I can’t say that I see a tremendous amount of slippage in his game. He still has great hand speed, lateral movement, angles and multi-punch combinations in his arsenal. I believe a guy like Keith would be a problem for him at any point in his career at this weight but I believe he will create noticeable problems for Keith in return.”


With this response to the question about Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2) and his ability to pull off a win against Keith Thurman (29-0) this Saturday, Iceman John Scully, boxing historian, trainer and world title challenger, offered a pre-fight analysis of the bout, examining both fighters, their skills, and what fight fans can expect when the two clash.


Ring experience and ring generalship are two of the things Scully feels are strengths Manny Pacquiao possesses.


“Manny has a ton of absolute world class experience right now on his side,” he said. “He has great vision in the ring that enables him to recognize any situation he finds himself in and he has the ability to quickly adapt to it.” And once he assesses these situations, the scrappy Senator has the tools to see him through anything an opponent may bring, Scully noted. “He can box, he can punch, he can dig down in the trenches when he has to. His conditioning is also always top notch.”


For Keith Thurman, his strengths lay in being a very well rounded fighter, both a technician or a balls out warrior, depending on the scenario, and- having tons of heart.


“He can box with excellent skills and timing when he has to and he can also go to war if need be,” Scully said, and recalled a past fight where Thurman had to summon all his skill and heart.


“I saw in person the tremendous heart he showed against Luis Collazo, in a fight that saw him hurt very badly with a body shot and just when it looked like he would be stopped for the only time in his career, he was able to dig down and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. It takes a special boxer and a special effort to do that at the world class level.”


One of the things that makes Manny Pacquiao a formidable competitor is his style, which has made victims out of many opponents.


“Manny has a very unpredictable style in that he is able to use his feet and his upper body movement in conjunction with each other extremely well,” Scully explained, and defined the other facets of his game that make him tough to beat. “He’s hard to time, he’s hard to get a real bead on, because of unorthodox angles and impressive, explosive hand speed.” Put all of this together, and Manny Pacquiao is in full effect. “Then when he zeroes in on you,” Scully continued, “and gets in a groove, he’s a whirlwind, reminiscent of the great Aaron Pryor.”


By contrast, Thurman’s style is more orthodox, with good power on his shots, and combinations which are set up from a distance.


“Keith Thurman has top class boxing ability and puts punching together very fluidly,” Scully said, and reminded he can also go toe to toe. “But at the same time, he also has the ability to dig down in the trenches and do damage there as well.” While there’s no denying Thurman’s punching ability, it’s WHERE he’s most effective that gives him the most success, Scully revealed.


“He is a great puncher, but he is someone who is probably most effective when he decides to box from a distance and set his combination up from the outside. He gets a tremendous amount of snap on his hard shots when he is able to punch from a solid distance.”


When Pacquiao and Thurman face off Saturday night, will boxing fans be treated to a hard and fast slug fest? Scully sees a lot of action-packed possibilities on tap for Saturday night.


“This is a fight where I can see so many different things happening,” he said. “I think early on Keith might be a little anxious. He might force his punches early on and find himself getting caught much more than he would anticipate or like.” But don’t think Thurman won’t be getting his shots in. “At the same time,” Scully continued, “I think Manny is going to feel some serious heat early on from Keith, and will subsequently adopt a trickier and more elusive style to make Keith miss while he tries to counter punch.” Size will come into play for Thurman, and he will make every effort to use what he thinks is a big advantage for him over Pacquiao, which Scully noted. “I’ll say that Keith believes he is the much bigger and more powerful guy and his nature will see him try and force that on Manny as much as he can.” Another factor Scully mentioned is Thurman’s time away from the ring, which Pacquiao could play on. “I would look for the possibility that some ring rust will allow Manny to sneak in some very quick shots back that Keith is surprised by, especially early on.”


Predicting a winner in this match is hard, Scully admitted.


“This is a very hard fight for me to call,” he said. “I can see different outcomes playing out. Ultimately, if I am forced to go out on a limb, I’m going to say that Keith finds his rhythm, gets himself in a groove, and his willingness to fire back with powerful punches will see him start to get to the much older Pacman, beginning somewhere around the midway point. Both guys will take some real punishment and Manny will be there to win right to the end but over the second half of the fight, Keith’s stronger punches will have taken their toll. Keith comes though with a solid and relatively comfortable decision victory over 12 rounds.”





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