Eight-division world champion and future hall of famer, Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao (56-7-1, 36 KOs) and undefeated WBA Welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman (29-0-0, 22 KOs) faced off for the press and media in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Wednesday, May 22, 2019.
Joined by IBF Super Middleweight champion Caleb “Sweet Hands” Plant (18-0-0, 10 KOs) and unbeaten challenger, Mike Lee (21-0, 11 KOs), Pacquiao and Thurman gathered for the second and final stop of a promotional tour in anticipation of their respective back-to-back main event cards, taking place on July 20,2019 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and presented by Premier Boxing Champions and Fox Sports.
Paquiao and Thurman will meet in a battle of Welterweight champions to consolidate their WBA world titles (with Thurman being the organizations recognized “Super” champion and Paquiao having won the secondary “regular” title upon stopping Lucas Matthysse last summer) in a Fox Pay-Per-View main event beginning at 9:00 pm, ET/6:00 pm, PT.
Plant vs. Lee will headline a PBC on FOX main event at the same venue beginning at 7:00 pm, ET/4:00 pm, PT.
Many fans and pundits alike thought Pac Man was on a collision course with IBF Welterweight champion Errol “The Truth” Spence when he stepped inside the ring following Spence’s 12-round unanimous-decision victory over Mikey Garcia and agreed to face Spence.
Instead, Pacquiao shocked many in challenging the unbeaten Thurman, who before being forced to take a two year layoff due to various injuries sustained in unifying two fourths of the division (WBC/WBA) was viewed as the consensus king of the division.
In the time since then, Thurman was forced to vacate the WBC title and returned in January to defend the WBA belt in a much tougher-than-expected battle with Josesito Lopez. Thurman survived a scare in the seventh round of the fight and rallied to earn a hard-fought decision victory.
When asked why he picked Thurman as his next opponent, Pacquiao spoke about his continued desire to give fans great fights.
“I chose Keith Thurman because he’s a great fighter,” said Pacquiao. ”
He’s undefeated and because we can give a good fight to the fans. I want to make the fans happy that night and show that I can still go toe to toe with any opponent.”
Never short on words, Thurman had plenty to say about his legendary challenger, speaking as he had the day before at the kickoff conference of retiring the fighting senator and claiming his scalp for his ledger.
“I’m destroying the legend of Manny Paquiao,” said Thurman. “His legacy ends July 20, and mine begins.”
Thurman’s words and ever present smirk seem to have a struck a cord with Pacquiao who seemed more responsive and energetic than in his most recent press tours.
“It’s easy for my opponents to talk before the fight,” said Pacquiao. “But when we get into the ring it all changes. He said he’s young, but we’ll see who looks young in the ring on July 20th. I’m going to let my fists say everything for me.”
Thurman played on Pacquiao being 10 years his senior and of him being at too many disadvantages to come out victorious. Thurman asserted that his youth, strength, lateral movement and overall boxing IQ will be too much, comparing Pacquiao’s in-and-out style to a small rabbit.
“All Manny does is hop around the ring,” said Thurman. “I’m not gonna lose to a bunny rabbit. He’s not Tupac, but he does a little hip hop, and he’s not going to stop until he gets dropped. Manny is a world class fighter not a world class boxer. I’m going to trip him up in the ring and he won’t know what direction to turn to. This is a big fight as far as the stage goes, but it’s a big fight against a little guy. I’m the youngest, fastest, hungriest fighter that he’s ever been in the ring with. July 20th it’s the Keith Thurman show.”
Undercard info will be announced in the coming weeks, but fans can expect an explosive night of world class boxing across both cards.