Trash talk has been a ritual for decades within boxing, designed to get into the mind of your opponent and strike fear as well as putting them off their game. A general unspoken rule is that trash talking is to be about the opponent and their abilities within the sport, possibly about their outside lives, but never too personal. However, some boxers do take things too far, and one of them is Keith Thurman when he disrespected Manny Pacquiao, who he faces in Las Vegas on July 20th.
You can find the best odds with Paddy Power here; 2
Sometimes trash talk is just used to help market a fight, sell more tickets and make the build-up to it a little more intense so that when it comes to throwing punches, the fighters have some emotional motivation to lay the KO punch. However, when Thurman began his trash talk about Pacquiao, he quickly inspired the Pac-Man to not only win his match and prove he still has time left, but to well and truly bury Thurman’s career with no hope of revival.
Thurman still needs to prove a point, after having two years out after surgery – and his comeback fight in January 2019 against Josesito Lopez did not go as smoothly as planned. Thurman is known for his ‘One Time’ punches and landing 22 KOs in 24 fights, but in January the American struggled so much in round seven and beyond that people were questioning if he came back too soon.
It looks as if Thurman is attempting to strike some sort of fear into Pacquiao, by stating that he is going to end the 40-year-old’s career and make his part-time job as a senator in the Philippines, a full-time career. Thurman repeated elements, saying that Pacquiao has two options, give up or retire. All of these statements are classed as acceptable trash talk, something that would be expected from any opponent, however, here is where it all went too far.
Thurman announced that he was going to ‘crucify’ Pacquiao in a press conference in May, which for anyone is an aggressive statement for any opponent, but Thurman said he wanted to ‘hit him where it hurts’ by bringing his religion into it.
Pacquiao is a devoted Christian who takes his faith very seriously, stating that his future and life are in God’s hands when he steps into the ring. Thurman then continued his religious beating in the face-to-face last month when he said “Jesus Christ was resurrected. But not to walk this world again” referencing that come July 20th, Manny Pacquiao will not set foot in a fighting ring again. Pacquiao, when asked for a response, Pac-Man said, “My response to him is we'll see. He is giving me more motivation and determination to work hard and prove that it's not true.”
Pacquiao, according to one of his trainers, Freddie Roach, has always said about defeating opponents but never delivering a KO. However, after Thurman’s verbal attack, the Pac-Man is determined to KO Thurman. Roach stated: “For a while he would tell me that he just needs to beat his opponents and not knock them out. But he doesn't say that any more. He's getting more aggressive.”
A fighter who could win a fight without anger, now has an even bigger reason to deliver on the night. It’s about more than just winning and pride, it’s about proving him wrong. Has Thurman just sealed his fate against his opponent in the biggest match of his career?