Brilliant Pacquiao downs Thurman to capture WBA crown
LAS VEGAS, Nevada: Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao rolled back the years to become the oldest welterweight champion in boxing history with a thrilling split decision victory over WBA champion Keith Thurman on Saturday.
The 40-year-old Pacquiao, 10 years older than the previously undefeated Thurman, delivered a vintage performance before a sell-out MGM Grand Garden Arena crowd of 14,356 which included former welterweight king Floyd Mayweather.
Pacquiao floored Thurman with an electrifying combination in the first round and remained on the front foot throughout a pulsating 12-round duel.
Although the bloodied Thurman rallied in the later rounds to narrow Pacquiao’s lead, the judges scored it in the Filipino’s favour. Two judges scored it 115-112 for Pacquiao with the third scoring it 114-113 for Thurman.
“It was fun,” Pacquiao said afterwards. “My opponent is a good fighter and boxer. He was strong.”
Thurman had riled Pacquiao in the build-up to the fight by vowing to “crucify” his deeply religious opponent, and later promising to send the Filipino icon into retirement.
Pacquiao, who improved to 62-7-2 with 39 knockouts, was gracious in victory.
“I’m not that kind of boxer who talks a lot; we were just promoting the fight,” he said.
Pacquiao, who earned an estimated $20 million from Saturday’s fight, is now a major player in the competitive welterweight division once again after capturing Thurman’s WBA welterweight ‘super’ champion belt.
The eight-division world champion said he will now return to resume his work as a senator before deciding on his next move inside the ring.
Thurman meanwhile had few complaints in defeat, embracing Pacquiao after the final bell in recognition of an epic contest.
“I knew it was too close,” Thurman said. “He got the knockdown so he had momentum in round one.”
Official statistics showed Pacquiao landed 195 of 686 punches thrown, while Thurman connected with 210 of 571. “My numbers just weren’t up to par to be victorious tonight,” Thurman said.