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Thurman v Pacquiao: Would It Be The End of the Road for the Loser?

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2019 has already seen its fair share of crowd-pulling and, ultimately, crowd-pleasing fights. Vegas’ MGM Grand was set to host another on July 20th, when Keith Thurman put his WBA super welterweight strap on the line against Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao. Intriguing though the fight was, between two of undoubtedly the best boxers at or around that weight, questions will be asked of the loser.

It may have seemed strange that this could have been a make-or-break fight for either fighter given their combined pedigrees. Let’s remind ourselves…

Without taking anything away from the fight itself or either of the two men who will enter the ring, that is the case. Manny Pacquiao will turn forty-one before the end of the year: there is a limit to how many more times he can put his body through a camp, as well as another tough fight. He also has very strong political ambitions. He enjoys legendary status in his own country but a string of defeats, poor performances or fights against boxers who have no right to be in the same ring as him will do his image and his reputation no favors.

After his – controversial in some eyes – loss to Jeff Horn two years ago, it looked like the writing would be on the wall for the southpaw. But a 7th round stoppage of Lucas Matthysse and the fight against Adrien Broner where he cruised to a unanimous points decision have earned him a title shot against Thurman on more than just his name alone. If he was to lose in Vegas, and most people had Thurman to win, you had to wonder where he’d go next.

Keith Thurman would also be forced to ask himself some searching questions if he did not get his hand raised against the forty-year-old in July. His 29 – 0 record stands up to almost anyone in the sport, but since that split-decision victory over Danny Garcia in May 2017, injury has seen him in the ring just once. That was against Josesito López, a fighter who certainly can’t be classed as a journeyman, but with seven losses going into that fight, he would not have presented any difficulties for a Thurman at the top of his game. He was anything but, and he labored to a majority-points decision after being rocked in the 7th. That fight was a self-professed tune up, but anyone who saw that would be forgiven for thinking the injuries, the surgery and the time out of the ring have had irreversible consequences.

Two years ago Thurman dismissed a fight with Pacquiao almost out of hand. It is telling that all this time later he is now willing to fight the Filipino senator. Deep down it would be interesting to know just how resilient he thinks his body is, and whether he genuinely does believe that he can get back to his best. A fight against a good and hungry Manny Pacquiao will be a perfect way to prove to the world – and himself – he is well and truly back.

And then it played out…and, in fact, it could be argued, the stock of both men rose! Boxing can be a funny sport that way…

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