By Keith Idec
Manny Pacquiao pointed to his speed as an obvious advantage over Keith Thurman.
Pacquiao is 10 years older than Thurman, but the Filipino legend considers his superior hand speed and athleticism as keys to defeating Thurman on July 20 in Las Vegas.
“I think what I saw in this fight is the speed, we know the fact that I’m faster than him,” Pacquiao said during FOX Sports’ “Face to Face” preview with Thurman. “We know that.”
The 30-year-old Thurman acknowledged that Pacquiao’s speed is still one of his greatest assets, even at 40. But the unbeaten WBA “super” welterweight champion reminded Pacquiao and moderator Brian Campbell that his speed is something for which he doesn’t receive enough credit.
“I think my speed is underestimated,” Thurman said. “I think Pacquiao is fast. But what makes him so fast is he’s relentless. This hand, that hand, bop, bop, bop, bop, bop. You know, and then the combination, you get to see it just continuously come out as fast as he can let ‘em fly. I don’t know if my combinations look that fast, but when I’m in the ring with people I know that I get right in between in those special moments. And it’s my speed that opens up other opportunities in that ring.”
Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) thinks Thurman is being underestimated in general because Josesito Lopez hurt him badly during the seventh round of his last fight, January 26 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs, 1 NC), who came back to win that 12-round bout by majority decision, hadn’t fought in 22 months before opposing Lopez because he had elbow surgery and later suffered a hand injury.
“As a boxer, I understand what happened to him,” Pacquiao said. “Two years layoff from boxing, it’s hard to come back right away, your style. But it’s good for him, because he survived that day, the last fight. But I’m pretty sure he’s different for this fight, because he already came back and he’ll work hard for this fight. I know he’s focused and thinking that he needs to train hard, to show 100 percent condition.”
The 12-round, 147-pound title bout between Thurman and Pacquiao will be the main event of a FOX Sports Pay-Per-View show at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Pacquiao is a slight favorite, according to most Las Vegas and Internet sports books.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.