WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman expects to bag the biggest victory of his career, when he defends the world title against Manny Pacquiao.
Pacquiao, an eight division world champion, is building a lot of steam with experts who believe that - even at 40-years-old - he has the necessary tools to hand Thurman his first career defeat.
The contest takes place on July 20th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Thurman's value has declined in the eyes of observers, after he sustained a two year layoff and then came back in January with a lackluster twelve round decision win over Josesito Lopez.
Thurman blames much of his performance to ring rust, and says there will be no excuses come fight night.
“I am back on the big stage, I have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase my talent and skill with a legend in the sport. It’s a big ‘get back’ year for me,” said Thurman.
“I tried to tell everyone that and this is what it’s like when champions get back to performing like world class champions. No excuses. I want to be the best Keith Thurman I can be, and we set up a camp where we can bring out the best in me, for myself, for the fight and for the fight fans.”
And Thurman's head trainer, Dan Birmingham, believes his boxer is now 100% back, physically and mentally.
He strongly feels that Thurman has too many tools and attributes for Pacquiao, an eight division world champion.
“He has a renewed vigor - more energy - and he’s anxious to fight and anxious to train,” said Birmingham.
“His power, ferociousness and tenacity will be a problem for Manny. We’ve only escalated that in this camp. He has two strength and conditioning coaches - NFL great Yo Murphy and leading strength coach Kimberly Doehnert. The core team includes post-workout trainer Eric Wilson for stretching and recovery in addition to myself and Chris Getty for strategy and training.
“We’ve mixed up sparring with some guys who emulate Manny but are tougher, stronger fighters who can take a punch. You’ve got to be tough to box with Keith. We’re going to win this fight.”