Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 July 2019

Keith Thurman says 'I'm the new Manny Pacquiao' - and will prove it when they meet on July 20

Undefeated American puts his WBA Super Welterweight belt on the line against Pacquiao in Las Vegas in a fight he describes as 'the biggest of my career'

Keith Thurman says he is the “new Manny Pacquiao” as he aims to destroy the Filipino's legend when the two go head-to-head in their title clash in Las Vegas next week.

The undefeated American, 30, will defend his WBA Super Welterweight crown against boxing’s only eight-division world champion on July 20 at the MGM Grand.

The build-up to the fight has been dominated by Thurman’s barbs, with the Florida native repeatedly stating he will send 40-year-old Pacquiao into retirement. The fight represents the 71st professional outing of Pacquiao's celebrated career.

However, Thurman was more respectful towards his opponent in a conference call early Wednesday UAE time, acknowledging that Pacquiao's resume provided the platform to add a significant notch to his own boxing bio - even if his unbeaten streak could be in danger.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to destroy a legend and create my own legacy,” Thurman said. “How can I not Babe Ruth it and step up to the plate, point and start swinging. How can I not go for it? I’ve got an ‘0’ and I’m not afraid to let it go.

“If Manny Pacquiao is the man that beats me, he’s the man that beats me. I’m going to shake his hand after the fight and congratulate him. It is what it is. But when Keith Thurman steps into the ring, you’re dealing with Keith Thurman. And he’s a bad man.”

Thurman dubbed the bout with Pacquiao “the biggest fight of my career”, and sounded suitably enthused by the opportunity to go up against a true boxing legend. A guaranteed future Hall of Famer, Pacquiao record stands at 61-7-2, with 39 knockouts.

“Manny Pacquiao towards the end of his career, all those fights, and his record - it’s as if I’m fighting Sugar Ray Robinson himself," said Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs). "It’s as if I’m fighting Roberto Duran.

“This is Manny Pacquiao. It’s a tremendous feeling and it’s going to feel even greater when my hand is raised at the end of the night.”

The two fighters last fought in January, when Pacquiao defeated 29-year-old American Adrien Broner on points to successfully defend his world welterweight crown. Thurman won on points the following week, too, against Josesito Lopez, although he was rocked in the seventh round.

The fight marked Thurman’s return to competitive action following a 22-month hiatus caused by injury. Now, with rust shaken off, he says he will prove against Pacquiao that he is the stacked welterweight division's undisputed star draw.

“I think Keith Thurman makes all the great welterweight fights from here on out," he said. "It doesn’t matter who it is. When Keith Thurman fought Shawn Porter it was nominated Fight of the Year; when Keith Thurman fought Danny Garcia the fans had a tremendous show. When Keith Thurman fights Manny Pacquiao, fights Errol Spence [Jr], fights [Terence] Bud Crawford… Keith Thurman is the new Manny Pacquiao.

“I’m the most exciting fighter in the welterweight division today. Like [Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard] Ellerbe mentioned, Keith Thurman has the best resume at 147. Two years out of the game and I still hold the best resume at 147.”

Nevertheless, Thurman said he had been motivated by Pacquiao’s thirst for more.

“He wants to prove his greatness,” he said. “He’s still reaching for greatness at the age of 40 and it’s admirable. I was impressed by his performance against Adrien Broner. It was inspiring.

"After watching him, I got out into the streets and ran at one in the morning. Because I just watched a 40-year-old man beat a much younger man. Manny has done so much, but he wants to do more. I want to do more too, and on the 20th I want to show you more."

Updated: July 11, 2019 10:14 AM

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