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Manny Pacquiao vs. Keith Thurman Pick

Manny Pacquiao vs. Keith Thurman Fight Preview and Prediction to Win
When: Saturday, July 20, 2019
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: PPV
Weight Class: Welterweight: 147 Pounds
Titles: WBA Welterweight Titles
By Loot, Boxing Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Manny Pacquiao, 61-7-2 (39 KOs), from
Vs.
Keith Thurman, 29-0 (22 KOs), Clearwater, Florida

Betting Odds: Manny Pacquiao (+130), Keith Thurman (-150)

Manny Pacquiao and unbeaten Keith Thurman battle it out on July 20 for the WBA Welterweight Championship in Las Vegas. For the 40-year old "Pac Man" this is a chance for him to rejoin the ranks of the welterweight elite, as well as the pound-for-pound list. He could accomplish both with a win over a much younger and undefeated champion in the Floridian Thurman. And for the fighter known as "One Time," this is a chance for him to notch a legacy-building name to his resume, while also reminding the rest of the welterweight division that he is indeed back.

With Pacquiao, his track-record is pretty well known. He is only months away from his 25th anniversary as a professional boxer. And for over 20 of those years, being that he first won a world title in 1998 at age 19, he has been fighting top competition, moving from 106 pounds all the way up to the point where he actually captured a belt at junior middleweight. Since a disputed loss to Jeff Horn in Australia in 2017, he has looked pretty good in beating Lucas Matthysse and Adrien Broner in his last appearance in January. He is old. And beyond that number is an odometer that has probably turned over in terms of ring-mileage. But he's still here and a big factor. At the end of the day, talent speaks. And in that category, not many fighters will top Pacquiao.

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Thurman is ten years younger at 30 and has never tasted defeat in the ring. After taking off two years, he returned in January of this year to beat Josesito Lopez by decision and put himself in position for a big fight. While he will never be able to compare resumes with Pacquiao, he has won a title in this division, while scoring some big wins over guys like Robert Guerrero, Shawn Porter, and previously-unbeaten Danny Garcia. He has a lot of strength and physicality, with a good head on his shoulders, along with a vision of where he stands in this sport. After all, he is the favorite and no one has been able to beat him.

Whereas one used to never find solid betting value on Pacquiao, I feel he is mispriced in this fight, in favor of those who are backing him. I think he matches up very well with Thurman and that some of the criticisms of Pacquiao could also apply to his opponent. Granted, the boxing history books don't have a lot of successful 40-year old welterweights in it. They also don't have many fighters who are in any way viable a full two decades after first achieving championship glory. So I suppose we're entering unchartered territory in those regards. I can well understand how hard it is for people to get their heads around the fact that Manny can actually still do this at the highest levels.

I just question whether Thurman really represents the top level at 147 pounds anymore. A few years ago when he was stringing together some nice wins, he was at the head of a deep 147-pound weight class. The division is still as strong, but the top dogs like Terence Crawford and Errol Spence have passed him by. The two-year layoff happened right as he was picking up steam. It couldn't have happened at a worse time. One of the reasons was surgery on his right elbow. And in his comeback fight earlier this year, he looked to be a diminished version of himself in struggling with Lopez, a good fighter, but more of a gatekeeper at this stage. That could have been a case of shaking off ring-rust after a long time out of action, but I sense something more insidious.

I think Thurman hit a bit of a wall, in terms of what his body can withstand and how far he can go in this sport. A one-time feared power-puncher, he has scored just one stoppage in his last six fights. His dominance was muted against fighters like Porter and Garcia, where he didn't gain much separation from his foes. Throw in an elbow injury on his dominant side, time off, and the rest of the division getting better in his absence, and you have a fighter whose best days might be behind him. And in fighting a slick southpaw like Pacquiao, that right hand will need to be 100%. It didn't look like it was in the Lopez fight.

These events have caused Thurman to lose a little of his edge. And he is a fighter who needs that edge to be razor-sharp. Thurman isn't that fast. His power doesn't always resonate at this level. His skills are abundant, but he's no master boxer known for his cleverness or genius tactics. He's more of a robust, physical, and strong fighter who really gets after it and doesn't cut anyone any slack. He's very engaged in what he's doing and leaves no stone unturned. But that was when he was at 100%. At less than that, he's a much easier guy to manage. Look at where Manny was at this same age. He was putting together some of his best work. Now look at Thurman. You have a guy in the stretch-run of his career, trying to make some big money and set himself up well for a lucrative final chapter. Simply put, he's not made for this like Pacquiao is.

Again, we can't sleep on the potential liabilities of Pacquiao, who has his own issues in which to be concerned. But he has maintained remarkably well. There were some setbacks—the catastrophic KO loss to Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012, a letdown decision-loss to Floyd Mayweather in 2015, and a controversial loss to Jeff Horn in 2017. And though I felt he won the Horn fight, he was looking ragged in spots, almost overrun by Horn's physicality. And that would suggest that Thurman could have success muscling Manny around in this matchup. But Manny has staved off what appeared to be an inevitable collapse. He has looked really good in his last two fights.

Pacquiao still has a lot of speed, a big edge over Thurman. And that goes for his hands and his feet. He uses a lot of angles and is very tricky from the lefty stance, with tons of upper-body movement. The Thurman we saw in January in nowhere near sharp enough to handle that. The speed and movement will be a big issue, even more so if Thurman's right hand is compromised or if he's even just hesitant to let it go. With the Filipino legend's speed and mobility advantages, he might be able to sit down on his shots more in this fight.

A merciful fighter in the past, I would expect no such sentiment from Pacquiao in this bout. At 40, there are no more opportunities to rebuild should he lose. The time is now and if he wants to get in on some of these gigantic welterweight matchups, he needs to win this one. Not that he slacks off for any of his fights, but we should see an ultra-focused Pacquiao in this one. It seems weird to say this about a fighter with his age and mileage, but I think Pacquiao's chances of beating Thurman are a lot better now than they were 3-4 years ago. And to me, it looks like oddsmakers are pricing this according to 2015 Keith Thurman.

I don't want to undersell Thurman or pretend that there aren't liabilities when betting on Pacquiao this late in his career. Thurman could shake off the rust, injuries, and erosion, and end up surfacing in the ring in July at close to vintage-form. He's a very resolute guy with a more-powerful mind than some may think. But even if he did come in close to his peak, I think he is facing an uphill battle in this matchup stylistically. I see Pacquiao pulling off the upset.

Loot's Pick to Win the Fight: I'm betting on Manny Pacquiao at +130 betting odds. Did you know... that you could be wagering on fights at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying inflated odds with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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