Pacquiao Opens as Slight Underdog vs Thurman for July Bout
Manny Pacquiao is set to face Keith Thurman in one of the biggest and most important fights of the year for boxing betting.
Pacquiao, 40, of General Santos City, Philippines, has won world titles in eight different weight classes.
The incredibly popular star currently holds a secondary welterweight title and hasn’t seemed to miss a beat since leaving Top Rank to become a PBC fighter.
Thurman, 30, of Clearwater, Florida, has held the WBA welterweight title since 2015, but he hasn’t stayed very active in recent years.
Bookmakers such as New Jersey’s FanDuel and Ladbrokes in the U.K. give the younger fighter the edge on the early betting market. Pacquiao opens as the +100 (6/5) underdog, a rare treat for Pacquiao fans, while Thurman comes in as the -150 (4/6) favorite.
Pacquiao is Still Elite
Despite his advanced age, Pacquiao is still considered one of the very best welterweights in the world. Pacquiao is ranked among the top ten at 147 pounds by both Ring Magazine and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
Pacquiao has won two straight fights since his disputable decision loss to Jeff Horn in 2017. He stopped Lucas Matthysse in July 2018 in the seventh round for Matthysse’s secondary WBA welterweight title and followed that impressive performance by dominating Adrien Broner to score a unanimous decision victory in January 2019.
While Pacquiao might not fight on the same level he did during his tremendous peak as a boxer around 2009, he’s still one of the best fighters in boxing. In fact, many people don’t think Pacquiao has really lost a fight since his 2015 decision loss to Floyd Mayweather.
If anything, Pacquiao’s bouts against Tim Bradley, Jessie Vargas, Horn, Matthysse and Broner are at least good evidence that Pacquiao is a very dangerous underdog.
Thurman's Comeback Continues
Thurman appeared to be on his way to becoming the top welterweight in the sport after Mayweather retired. At 28, Thurman defeated Garcia to add the WBC belt to his WBA welterweight crown.
While it wasn’t a completely dominant performance, it did prove Thurman was probably the best of a good group of PBC welterweights this side of Errol Spence.
But Thurman stepped away from boxing due to several mounting injuries. While he away from the sport, other welterweights, such as Spence and two-divsion world champion Terence Crawford, climbed out of the rubble to secure the top two spots in most divisional rankings.
Thurman returned in January 2019 to defeat Josesito Lopez by majority decision. It was a closer than expected bout against a decent opponent, but one many believed Thurman should have completely outclassed.
Was it just ring rust? Perhaps. Most fighters who step away from the sport for more than a year find themselves working out kinks when they get back into a boxing ring.
But some wonder if Thurman, despite probably still being in his physical prime, might simply have been surpassed by other fighters in probably the deepest, most talented division in boxing.
It might also just be Thurman no longer has the fire an elite boxer needs to stay on top.
Early Betting Tips for Pacquiao-Thurman
It’s best practice to avoid backing 40-year-old fighters like Pacquiao who are clearly competing in a division far beyond their natural weight. While Pacquiao has beaten a slew of solid fighters in the welterweight division, the truth of the matter is that he was probably at his absolute peak fighting under 140 pounds.
Still, Pacquiao’s career hasn’t followed any of the typical rules that usually apply to boxers. By the above logic, he shouldn’t have enjoyed such an easy romp over 29-year-old Broner. In fact, there are many fighters on Pacquiao’s resume he shouldn’t have logically beaten but did anyway.
Pacquiao-Thurman will come down to whether Pacquiao can avoid Thurman’s hard counters. Pacquiao’s speed should present a number of problems for Thurman, but the right punch from one of the hardest hitting welterweights could spell Pacquiao’s doom.
Still, it makes some sense to back Pacquiao on the early line. He’s an incredibly popular fighter with a long history of beating the bookies, so there’s at least some reason to believe getting Pacquiao at +100 won’t last very long as public money begins to pour in.
If there were no age considerations, Pacquiao’s style is a good bet to beat Thurman anyway. While Thurman is a solid boxer, he has shown against lesser fighters an unwillingness to take chances in fights when the chips are down.
It makes sense to think then that Pacquiao’s combination of speedy power punches from a southpaw stance really could conceivably take a decision win on the judges’ scorecards.
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