MANILA, Philippines – A gracious Manny Pacquiao was all praises for his beaten opponent, Keith Thurman, after their thrilling welterweight bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
Pacquiao scored an early knockdown, then hurt Thurman with timely shots all throughout the bout en route to a split decision victory. In the process, he handed Thurman his first loss, and claimed the WBA welterweight title.
Yet it was far from a straightforward win, as Pacquiao ate several right hands from Thurman and was never quite able to put the American boxer away despite hurting him multiple times. In the tenth round, Pacquiao unleashed a body shot that had Thurman doubled over, but Thurman was able to cycle out of danger and recovered well enough to finish the bout on his feet.
After his victory was announced, Pacquiao said of Thurman: "He's not an easy opponent. He's a good boxer, he's strong."
The Fighting Senator doubled-down on his statement in the press conference, wherein he called Thurman a "very tough" opponent.
"He's heavy-handed, not like other opponents I faced before," said Pacquaio. "This guy – he can fight."
Pacquiao compared Thurman's punching power to that of Antonio Margarito, whom he beat via unanimous decision when they fought in November 2010.
The Filipino ring icon also sought to encourage Thurman, who had talked trash all throughout the build up to the bout but proved classy in defeat.
"His journey does not end tonight," Pacquiao said of Thurman. "He has a lot of future . . . Don't be discourage; this is part of boxing."
"I know he's not over, he's not finished. This guy is a warrior," he added. "I can say that, because I've been fighting a lot of opponents, and this guy is heavy-handed. The kind of opponent you cannot underestimate."
Thurman, for his part, acknowledged that he got beat by the better man that night.
"I've always said I'm not afraid to let my '0' go, if you can beat me," he said on Twitter after the bout. "Manny Pacquiao beat me tonight. Hats off to the Senator on a great performance."
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