Eight-division world champion and reigning WBA (Regular) Welterweight World Champion Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KO) will have himself a tough test come July 20th when he faces off against undefeated WBA (Super) Welterweight World Champion Keith "One Time" Thurman (29-0-0, 1NC, 22 KO) for the WBA's primary title at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Already, the war of words has begun, and the much younger Thurman vowed to be the one to finally put a stamp on Pacquiao's legendary career.
"Come July 20, he will disappear. He belongs as a senator in the Philippines," Thurman exclaimed during their pre-fight press conference in New York. "What I am doing to Manny Pacquiao is what he did to Oscar De La Hoya."
In the Los Angeles leg of the pre-fight festivities, Thurman say that sharing the ring with Pacquiao was indeed a blessing, but immediately went back to taking verbal jabs at the Filipino boxing legend.
"It’s a blessing to be on this stage, to have a fight of this magnitude. I’ve been in this game for 23 years, this is just a dream come true. I’m an all-American fighter, all-American champion, and come July 20th, I’m going to stay champion."
"Manny is a world-class fighter, he’s a gentleman in the ring, out of the ring. I look forward to trading punches with the man, and the living legend, and the senator, and any other title that’s been given to him, but one thing’s for sure, he’s not walking away with my title, believe that," the Florida-native added, before likening Pacquiao to a rabbit. "This little bunny rabbit, the way he hops around in the ring, I’m not gonna lose to no bunny rabbit, he’s not Tupac, but he does a little hip hop, if you feel me. He’s gonna hip hop, and you don’t stop until he gets dropped."
With 24 years of professional boxing experience and 70 bouts under his belt, Pacquiao is no stranger to pre-fight trash talk from opponents, and the Pinoy champion maintains that everything changes once they get inside the ring.
"Most of my opponents, they can easily say something before the fight. That’s usually what I hear from, that I’m an easy opponent, I’m easy to beat, but the thing is, when we get to the ring, it changes, it will change. That’s the way it is, and that’s the thing," Pacquiao said.
Pacquiao continued by saying that his primary concern was to make the fans happy and he was confident that Thurman was the right choice for an action-packed bout for the fans.
"I chose Keith Thurman because he’s an aggressive fighter, he’s undefeated, and I believe that we can give a good fight to the fans, that’s my first concern. I want to make the fans happy on that night, and I’m pretty sure that there’s gonna be a lot of action in the ring, especially since he said he’s young. Let’s see who’s young in the ring come July 20."
The 40-year old Pacquiao, who is ten years Thurman's senior, added that all the pre-fight banter has served as motivation to show that come fight night, their significant age difference will not be a factor.
"I’m the kind of fighter who doesn’t say a lot of trash talk before the fight, but I let my punches, my fists say anything in the ring. We will work hard, we trained hard for this fight, we will not take him lightly or underestimate him. He’s undefeated, he’s a champion. In fact, I’m thankful of what he’s said, because it gives me more motivation and determination to focus more and to prove that at age 40, I feel like I’m 29."
"This is fun, I’m enjoying it. Do you think that at 40 years old, I’m not enjoying it? I’m enjoying it. I’m excited to go back to the Philippines and go straight to the gym and train and focus on my training and focus on the fight," he continued.
Pacquiao challenges Thurman for the WBA (Super) Welterweight World Championship on Saturday, July 20th (Sunday, July 21st, Manila time) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.