Khan blurs Pacquiao’s focus
Keith Thurman showed intent on his chest during the so-called Grand Arrivals show on Tuesday at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas for his fight with legendary Filipino southpaw Manny Pacquiao.
“Game Over,” screamed the T-shirt Thurman wore as he greeted fans at the MGM lobby. “Of course this [message] is meant for Manny Pacquiao,” the unbeaten WBA welterweight champion told the media later.
Ring diehards will know exactly how Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs) would carve out a win against Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs), the secondary WBA welter king, to unify the 147-pound title when they tangle at MGM’s Garden Arena late Sunday morning, Philippine time.
The 40-year-old Pacquiao, boxing’s only eight-division champ, lost a controversial decision against Australian roughhouser Jeff Horn, in July 2017, but bounced back with convincing wins over Lucas Matthysse last year and Adrien Broner in January.
The 30-year-old Thurman, on the other hand, can’t wait to prove he is finally back. He’s been in the ring only once since his victory over Danny Garcia in 2017.
He underwent surgery on his right elbow and spent rehab time for a bad bruise on his left hand. He showed rust in beating Josesito Lopez in January.
“All athletes get injured and battle to come back,” Thurman told the Los Angeles Times. “Baseball, football. It’s part of it. Tiger Woods, look at what happened to him. He was out, he was gone and everybody wondered if he’d come back. He did. But this ain’t golf.”
Amir Khan’s outlandish claim earlier this week may have shifted Pacquiao’s focus briefly from his fight with Thurman.
The British fighter, who was reportedly paid $7 million for his easy knockout win over the smaller Billy Dib in Saudi Arabia last Friday, said he will fight Pacquiao on Nov. 8 in a deal that is tentatively in place.
Khan said his next fight “is going to be in Riyadh (the Saudi capital) this time … Hopefully, it could be the Manny Pacquiao fight we have both signed and the fight is done.”
The 2004 Olympic silver medalist rose to become a unified titlist in the 140-lb division while training alongside Pacquiao under Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach. Khan remains a recognizable fighter.
But his ill-advised forays and subsequent loses, first in a 155-lb catch weight to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and then to reigning WBO welterweight titlist Terence Crawford, make him an unbankable pick for top promoters.
“Pilit pumapel (trying to play a major role),” said fellow deadline beater Recah Trinidad. “’Di na dapat patulan (He shouldn’t be tolerated).”
“It’s simple. Senator Pacquiao is focused on his fight … versus Keith Thurman. The Amir Khan fight is news to us,” Sean Gibbons, president of Pacquiao’s promotions company, told Boxingscene.com matter-of-factly.
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