Last weekend the boxing world came alive with excitement at the action brought forth by Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) and Keith Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao walked away with a split-decision victory and with Thurman’s WBA Welterweight championship. Many believe the decision should have been unanimous in favor of Pacquiao, but there is a growing contingency of fans who believe the fight could have been a draw or scored in favor of Thurman.
The Filipino can now add being the oldest Welterweight champion in boxing history to his vast list of accomplishments.
The fighting senator, at 40 years of age, at times looked like the dynamo many fans remember in the first half of the bout.
However, father time stepped in along with Thurman’s investment in body shots and applying pressure to slow down Pacquiao, allowing the Florida power-puncher back into the fight over the second half of the match.
Pacquiao showed his greatness against Thurman performing at a high level against a fighter that was in elementary school when he turned professional. Before the fight, Pacquiao stated that he wanted to inspire people with his performance.
The person he may have inspired the most was his opponent.
Back in March of 2005, Pacquiao participated in his first headlining pay-per-view event at the MGM Grand against Hall of Famer, Erik Morales. Pacquiao would lose a close, but clear unanimous decision to Morales, forever altering his career.
After the loss to Morales, Pacquiao went on a historic run including scoring two stoppage victories over Morales in rematches. The Filipino would go on to become one of the most significant pay-per-view attractions in the history of combat sports.
Pacquaio was able to respond to his loss from Morales by growing his boxing acumen and adding more tools such as his right hook to his toolbox.
Thurman, at 30 years of age, may be able to follow Pacquiao’s footsteps and become a better fighter.
With it now being reported that Pacquiao-Thurman may have sold over 500,000 in pay-per-view buys, Thurman is now more known globally than at any point in his career.
The Florida power-puncher now has the luxury of being underrated and possibly surprising many skeptics throughout the sport.
Thurman may not have had his hand raised in victory against Pacquiao, but he showed a tremendous amount of heart and boxing IQ in the match.
This was exemplified in the 10th-round when Pacquiao badly hurt Thurman to the body who then retreated, even taking out his mouthpiece to help him breathe, while maneuvering out of the way of Pacquiao’s oncoming attack.
Along with Pacquiao, Thurman is arguably the most exciting fighter in the Welterweight division, showing his ability to entertain in and out of the ring.
Circumstances outside of the ring have kept Thurman an inactive fighter. 2019 is the first year since 2015 that he stepped inside the ring more than once.
The constant lack of activity could have stalled some of Thurman’s growth as at times he seems to have plateaued rather than improve.
Should Thurman treat his defeat to Pacquiao the same way the Filipino took his loss to Morales we could see a vastly improved version of Thurman from this point forward.
In a sport like boxing, it is near impossible to come away with a victory every time you step inside the ring. How you handle and move forward from a defeat can be a fighter’s greatest attribute.
Now that Thurman has the experience of having fought a legend, he is likely to return with a vengeance and now something to prove to everyone in the Welterweight division.
Following the fight with Pacquiao, Thurman stated at the post-fight press conference that he has the right attitude.
“You get blessings and lessons,” said Thurman. “Tonight was a blessing and a lesson.”
A wise man can see failure as progress, and in due time Thurman will show us what lessons he learned from his bout with Pacquiao.