When the cherry cherry-picks you
Saturday’s July 20 showdown between Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao (61-7-2 39KOs) and Keith “One Time” Thurman (29-0, 22KOs) will definitely be an exciting fight. Both fighters have exciting styles and their aggression will make for a compelling fight.
The WBA welterweight super champion is coming off of the toughest stretch of his career so far. Thurman hasn’t had two fights in the same calendar year since 2015. When the native Floridian was able to make it into the ring, he made the most of it with career-best wins over Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia. Thurman also had his share of tumult with an elbow surgery in 2017, and a serious car accident in 2016. He then had a much tougher than expected fight against Josesito Lopez that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It was this performance that many suspect was the reason that Manny Pacquiao chose him.
The WBA welterweight regular champion, and eight division world champion seems to have reinvented himself once again. Pacquiao is 4-1 since his 2015 defeat at the hands of Floyd Mayweather. Also, many fans feel Pacquiao was robbed in his defeat to Jeff Horn. Since fighting Horn, Pacquiao has looked nothing short of spectacular. This includes his KO victory over Lucas Matthysse, and a lopsided win over Adrian Broner. The Congressman isn’t what he once was but, he’s proven he’s still an elite welterweight, even at the advanced age of 40.
Tactics and Game Plan: Thurman
First, for Keith Thurman, this will be a difficult fight due to the fact he rarely jabs. For any opponent that shares the ring with Pacquiao, controlling range is a must. Without a jab, this will be a difficult task. The super champ has a style that’s very similar to Sergio Martinez, where he uses his movement to draw out mistakes from his opponents. Thurman moves around, alternating from a high guard to dropping his lead hand to entice his opponents into attacking him. This tactic usually creates one of two types of opportunities. Either his opponents get mentally fatigued and drops their guard, or they follow him onto the center-line and get hit with a combination or or hard overhand right.
One trait that makes Thurman elite is his timing. Anytime he sees an opening or mistake from his opponent, he quickly strikes. One Time is fighter that can look vulnerable at times due to dropping his hands or constant movement but, it’s also a way of setting traps. Where Thurman is vulnerable is that he doesn’t jab, and when he does, he paws with it in a bow and arrow stance. The best way to compensate for this flaw is with feints, while using the threat of the check-hook or right-hand to delay, and force Pacquiao into guessing how to attack. If Thurman can show enough diversity to keep Pacquiao off balance, he should pull off a victory.
Tactics and Game Plan: Pacquiao
As for the Philippine Congressman, he has a lot to feel confident about. Pacquiao seems to have adjusted to his advanced age and figured out how to pace himself. He’s also been blessed to have maintained a good deal of his athleticism. The eight division champ isn’t a chess player but, he’s an all world checkers player. He simply can figure out how to apply his style to match-up properly with his opponent’s style. The two hallmarks of Pacquiao’s style are his “triangle trap” and his constant feints. Expect for Pac-Man to have some success landing his straight left because he won’t be hampered by a formidable jab. He also has an advantage in short range quickness, so he should be able close ground quite often. If Pacquiao can win the feint game, and maintain a consistent work-rate, he simply will win the fight.
Due to the styles of both fighters, expect a razor close, and controversial finish. Pacquiao will have his moments but, I expect the younger Keith “One Time” Thurman to pull off the win. After seeing Thurman in tough competition with WBC champion Shawn Porter, I expect him to use his ingenuity once again. In the fight with Porter, Thurman was able to clinch effectively while utilizing his left hooks and a sneaky uppercut to eke out a win. In this fight, the super champion will dig into his bag and find that extra tool to get the victory. For the gambler out there, Thurman is a firm but slim underdog, and thus will pay rather nicely.
By: Corey Cunningham