Keith Thurman keeps calling Manny Pacquiao a legend, and in the boxing world, he probably is correct.
Then the undefeated welterweight champion keeps promising to end the ring career of the senator from the Philippines.
That could happen, too. For once, Pacquiao is the underdog in the July 20 fight in Las Vegas for the WBA belt.
Or Pacquiao, holder of titles in eight weight classes during 24 years in the sport, could continue his Hall of Fame-caliber career at age 40 with another impressive win.
What Thurman wants is to fully establish himself as the top gun in a loaded division. It's his first pay-per-view fight despite being 29-0 with 22 knockouts. It's also an opportunity to prove that the rustiness he showed in a January decision over Joselito Lopez is gone after Thurman fought only three times in three years, in part due to injuries.
Pacquiao-Thurman is an intriguing matchup. Although Pacquiao had lost a unanimous decision to Jeff Horn in 2017, he determined he was not through when many — possibly most — in the boxing world had written him off. He won the WBA crown from Lucas Matthysse a year later, then easily beat Broner.
If nothing else in a 61-7-2 career, he has staying power.
“All my life I have confronted challenges -- in life, in politics, and inside the ring,” said Pacquiao.
“Keith Thurman is the type of challenge I crave as a fighter. He is the biggest and best test. That is why I want to fight him. We are going to give boxing fans an exciting fight and a great night.”