More than a few fight fans and experts were surprised when Manny Pacquiao looked as good as he did against Keith Thurman.
Facing a man ten years his junior and universally regarded as a top three welterweight (if not, THE top welterweight), the multi-division world champ was not only able to compete, but also able to win. The Filipino icon walked away with a split decision victory. In doing so, he unified the two halves of a splintered WBA 147 lb. title.
Some of us, however, were not all that surprised. Call it a mix of Manny not being as “done” as portrayed and Thurman, maybe, not being as sharp as he’s generally regarded. Whatever the case, Pacquiao won and was set to move forward.
Then, the Covid-19 shutdown occurred and Manny was stuck in limbo.
Since then, there’ve been plenty of rumors and arrows shot his way. But there’s been little in terms of actual concrete proof regarding his plans.
Thurman, however, hopes to grab that first opponent slot upon Manny’s return. Actually, he believes he deserves it.
“I want the opportunity to get my title back,” Thurman recently told Boxingscene. “It was my title that [Pacquiao] took and I would love that opportunity. It’s not mandated or forced upon him, so it’s just really up to him and what he’s choosing to do. Until he finishes his career out, I will demand that rematch. I had a goal in mind, I had a dream that when I fight Errol Spence, Jr. it will be for three world titles one way or another. Originally, I was the undefeated, unified welterweight champion. Now, currently he is the undefeated, unified welterweight champion.
“If I step into the belts with him today, there’s only two belts on the line. I gotta blame Manny Pacquiao for that. A part of me wants my get back. I would really love to share the ring with him once again. It was just such an amazing experience. It was one of my favorite fights of all time. I’d love to relive it and possibly get that opportunity to get the belt back.”
The former champ from Clearwater, Florida claims to have big plans upon boxing’s return. Those “big plans” supposedly involve getting back his belts from Pacquiao and then moving forward.
But could the mad rush to get his rematch be little more than a mad rush to get paid?
Thurman was thought to have received $8 million for the Pacquiao bout. By contrast, he earned $2 million fighting Danny Garcia and $1.4 million against Shawn Porter. Who wouldn’t pursue four times one’s previous best payday?
Actually, money is probably the primary driving force behind everyone looking to fight Manny.
Pacquiao, as still one of boxing’s most bankable fighters, guarantees a hefty payout for any B-side. As a “legit” star, he can also offer a piggyback ride to next-level stardom.
There’s also the fact that Manny is 41 and may be due for a fall. Everyone with a career to push within his weight range wants to be the one to “retire” the legend.
In Thurman’s specific case, a fight with Pacquiao represents the quickest route to nest egg retirement money. The buzz around Thurman has always been that he’s a man of intelligence and varied interests with one eye always set on post-boxing life. Another shot at Pacquiao and anything/everything that comes after would give him that financial cushion for life after sport.
Thurman hasn’t been mentioned as one of the top candidates for Manny’s return bout, so we’ll see what happens. In the meantime, expect the former champ to pursue and pursue.