LAS VEGAS—Keith Thurman understands Manny Pacquiao’s legend. The undefeated American understands why he has to shoulder most of the promotional chores for his fight with the Filipino ring icon.
Pacquiao, he said, “doesn’t have to do everything.”
“He’s got a fan base that loves him, follows him regardless of what he says,” he added. “And there’s lots of people that truly respect his humble approach cause he’s humble outside the ring, yet he’s vicious inside the ring.”
But that’s far as his respect for Pacquiao will take him. When fight night rolls around, Thurman will try to beat his opponent up. Legend. Senator. Icon. It doesn’t matter.
Thurman has another important chore to do.
“I’m not here to pat him on the back,” he said during a press conference on Wednesday at MGM Grand’s Garden Arena here. “On Saturday, I gotta go punch a senator in the face.”
On the stage during the press conference, Thurman was in full business mode, selling the welterweight championship showdown with his verbal jabs. He made fun of Pacquiao’s “T-Rex arms” and said that on Saturday’s fight night (Sunday morning in Manila), the Filipino megastar will finally say, “night, night.”
Pacquiao, as usual, refused to be reeled into a verbal circus.
“Like my opponent said, there will be action in ring,” said Pacquiao, who copromotes the fight along with Premier Boxing Champions.
“That’s why I picked him as my opponent. We can give a good fight for the fans. That’s the important thing, the enjoyment of the fans,” Pacquiao added.
Thurman knows action is what Pacquiao will be looking for, indeed, especially after what he calls a “letdown” of a fight against Adrien Broner in January.
“It wasn’t entertaining; he knows this. He was happy to win. But he’s not happy as a fighter,” Thurman said. “Because he truly cares about his fans.”
If not for his fans, “Manny Pacquiao will not make hundreds of millions of dollars like he has throughout his career. He understands that the fans allowed him to live a lavish lifestyle,” Thurman said.
“So he wants to have a great fight this year. He knows Keith Thurman is an undefeated champion, who has dusted off his injuries. I mean my title is on the line here,” he added.
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