The legendary Manny Pacquiao returns to the ring once again to take on Keith Thurman in a true generation vs generation match up. The legacy of the Filipino remains, but a win here could mean a final run with a championship. Thurman will be using the fight as a way to put his name in the record books as defeating one of the greatest boxers ever to grace the ring. It should be a thrilling encounter and may not be as routine as some punters think.
The questions surrounding Pacquiao are undoubtedly centred around the fact that he is no longer as prolific as he was during his younger years. At one point in his career, he was renowned for being brutal against his opponents, with the knockout victory over Ricky Hatton still ranked among the most brutal ends to a boxing match ever. However, he has only won by KO once in his last 11 fights. That victory came against Lucas Matthysse; his first KO victory in nine years. His career since the defeat against Floyd Mayweather has been indifferent. He retired after a win over Timothy Bradley, but this only lasted for eight months. His transition from a KO machine to somebody that works down his opponents has been astonishing, and while he is no longer the fresh-faced boxer that fans became accustomed to; he remains one of the very best to step foot in the ring.
To say he is a star would be an understatement. His reputation in his homeland outweighs anybody else, and he has already moved into politics. The support, however, has diminished following comments about same-sex marriage, but Saturday presents a chance for him to be talked about for the right reasons again.
Thurman, on the other hand, is no slouch in the ring either. He was previously ranked as the number one in the world for his weight class; with big wins over Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter, the obvious standouts. However, it has been a sudden fall from grace with problems plaguing the fights that he is in. He fought Porter before taking 13 months off and then returned to take on Garcia. He then didn’t step foot in the ring for another year before taking another hiatus of nearly two years. The Lopez fight was a clear sign that improvements that need to be made. Lopez is a very good fighter, but he should never truly be a test for Thurman. However, Lopez nearly stopped Thurman, and Pacquiao’s opponent was hugely fortunate to have escaped that matchup with the win. If he matches that performance on the weekend, then the fight could be over pretty quickly and embarrassing. Thurman still ranks pretty high in the ratings, but a win over Pacquiao would be a clear indicator that bigger things are yet to come.
This should be an enticing fight between two contrasting styles. As fight fans, we should be privileged that we can still see Manny Pacquiao compete at the highest level; however, this could be a bridge too far for him. If Thurman brings his A-game, then there is only one winner, and unfortunately, that could end the career for the legendary Filipino.