After years as a top welterweight and titleholder, Keith Thurman (29-0, 22 KO) goes into what is really the biggest fight of his career on July 20, facing the legendary Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KO) in a FOX pay-per-view main event.
After Tuesday’s presser to announce he fight formally, Thurman spoke with Marcos Villegas about the matchup and his goals.
On how he reacted when the fight was finalized
“When I was making a name for myself, when I fought the likes of Robert Guerrero — I was calling out Mayweather, I was happy to share an opponent with Mayweather, I believed I out-performed Mayweather. I was, like, if Manny Pacquiao wanted it, he could always get it. I just felt like a young, hungry lion that was ready to fight the best in the industry. Floyd, obviously, strategically fought throughout the end of his career, and he had an exit strategy. He did a great job, he’s a tremendous athlete and a legend in himself.
“Pacquiao, who has fought Floyd Mayweather, now this will be the second opponent to compare my skills in comparison to Mayweather as far as overall performance. A lot of people did not enjoy the Floyd Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. I can guarantee them that they’re going to enjoy the Keith Thurman-Pacquiao fight, because Keith Thurman is a different kind of breed, he’s a different kind of fighter.”
On why he thinks he’ll KO Pacquiao
“Manny’s 40 years old and he has something to prove. I’ve been inactive for almost two years, I just had one comeback fight, I still have something to prove. If you remember when I came back, I told everybody that this is a get-back year, and defeating Manny Pacquiao is a part of me getting back. Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman does not just beat Manny Pacquiao, he does knock out Manny Pacquiao.
“I’m tired of people believing that I don’t have the power that I once had, that Keith is not the same fighter. He got married, he’s wifed up, he just doesn’t have the fire no more. I believe in the sport of boxing that when you watch a fighter perform, that performance is based off of that training camp. I know I’ve trained hard as an athlete — it’s not something that everybody can do. But I have not been the best Keith Thurman that I can be. Even in the Danny Garcia fight, it was a good Keith Thurman, not the best Keith Thurman. Shawn Porter, not the best Keith Thurman. Josesito Lopez, not the best Keith Thurman.
“It’s not about what the fans have said, it’s about my love and my passion for the sport of boxing. I’m tired of not seeing me at my best. Come July 20th, you will see the best Keith Thurman.”
On whether he shook the rust in January
“It’s not just the performance, but it’s going from one camp into another camp. It’s taking the momentum of being an active athlete. So let’s say I fought Josesito Lopez and that fight happened in January — let’s say I wasn’t fighting Manny Pacquiao and this press tour was just to announce the fight and really I’m fighting Manny Pacquiao in January again, that’s another long layoff and it would kill the momentum.
“I’m staying active. He’s staying active, he also fought in January. We’re both coming off of momentum. So I believe that when I fight Manny Pacquiao, he might, even at the age of 40, be able to perform better against me than he did against Adrien Broner. But I know that with my skills and my talent, it’s just too much for Pacquiao to handle. I have the reach, I have the size, and I have the IQ. Once he starts getting touched, like Ben Getty said, they all move backwards.”
On unifying with the Spence-Porter winner
“I cannot guarantee anything. I’m not a fan of talking about the next fight. This is not football, this is not basketball, there is no scheduled season. There is nothing on paper. I look forward to unifying, I’ve unified before. I will unify again. But there also is a rematch clause in this fight, so Pacquiao can exercise that right if he feels fit to. I’m trying to take the performance, even though there’s no problem picking up two paychecks, I would like him to respectfully know that he’s a legend, he’s accomplished so much from where he comes from in the Philippines, to becoming champion of the world to becoming Senator — nobody can take away anything that Manny Pacquiao has accomplished. But after my victory on the 20th, I believe we could look into negotiations for a unification bout.”