By David Robinett at ringside
Photos: Sumio Yamada
Father Time continues to creep closer and closer to Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao, leading up to the inevitable end of his reign as an elite fighter. But not today. The incomparable Senator from the Philippines is clearly showing some wear in the tread, but still had enough in the tank to earn a well-deserved split decision over the previously undefeated WBA welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman.
Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) had predicted in the lead-up to the fight that Pacquiao’s time had passed and he was no longer able to hang with the best of the division. But Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) gave notice in the opening round that Thurman would pay for his lack of respect, dropping “One Time” with a left to the body, right to the head that sent the pro-Manny crowd into a frenzy.
Pacquiao continued to get the better of Thurman throughout the early rounds, not the whirling dervish he was when he burst onto the scene nearly two decades ago, but fighting in explosive bursts, with particular success to the body. In round five Pacquiao bloodied Thurman’s nose, and looked like he might be headed to an easy victory.
To his credit though, Thurman didn’t fold, getting stronger over the second half of the fight as it appeared Pacquiao started to tire, not unexpected for a small fighter competing at the unheard of age of 40. Thurman had success timing Pacquiao in the later rounds and landed several punishing right hands.
However, Pacquiao had one more trick in his bag to secure the win, digging a left to Thurman’s liver in round ten than nearly dropped the younger champion. Thurman visibly grimaced in pain and held on for dear life as an exhausted Pacquiao tried unsuccessfully to close the show. Ten years ago a wounded Thurman might have ended the fight on his back, but for tonight it was just enough to give Pacquiao that extra round he needed to cross the finish line in front.
The end is near, no doubt, but for at least one more night Pacquiao proved that he truly is, as his Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach calls him, “All Time.”