Manny Pacquiao says Keith Thurman’s trash-talking has helped him get more focused for next week’s showdown in Las Vegas than he has been for a long time – and that the barbs have struck a chord with his mother.
The Filipino, boxing’s only eight-division world champion, takes on the undefeated American on July 20 at MGM Grand in their WBA welterweight unification bout.
Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs) has spent much of the past month hyping up the fight, claiming he would send the 40-year-old Pacquiao into retirement. He has even declared he would “crucify” his opponent come fight night. Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) is a devout Christian.
However, while Pacquiao maintains he has not been angered by Thurman’s jibes, he said the constant chirping from his rival has helped him knuckle down ahead of what will be the 71st professional fight of an already distinguished career.
Asked during a conference call on Thursday if he felt Thurman had crossed a line with his remarks, Pacquiao said: “I’m not angry with him. I’m so motivated by all that he’s said, the trash-talk that he’s made. Even my mom, she got mad. It gives me more motivation to focus the training and to focus my condition and how hard I push the training.
“And believe me, this is a very interesting fight for me, because it’s been a long time that I’ve never focused like this in my fight.”
Pacquiao last fought in January, when he defeated 29-year-old Adrien Broner convincingly on points to defend his world welterweight crown. Thurman returned to the ring one week later, following a 22-month break caused by injury, to dispatch Josesito Lopez, although he was visibly rocked in the seventh round.
Pacquiao, though, said he would not read too much into that display.
“I’m not basing his performance on his last fight because he was coming back from a long lay-off, almost two years, so I understand he was not 100 per cent prepared.
“As a boxer, I really understand it’s hard to start again. For this fight I’m sure and I’m expecting from him 100 per cent conditioning. He did a lot of things in training; this time around he worked hard. He’s well prepared for this fight, because he’s not fighting Lopez, he’s fighting Manny Pacquiao.”
It has been reported that Thurman, 30, is promising to take the fight to Pacquiao, rather than use his younger legs to tire him out and then go for victory.
But Pacquiao countered: “That's going to be lovely if he’s going to fight toe-to-toe with me. Knockouts will come, but I’m not saying that I'm going to make a higher prediction for this fight. I don’t want to be careless in the fight. But I have to make sure, if he gives me that chance, why not? I have to grab that opportunity to knock him out.”
Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s revered trainer, added: “If somebody asks me if we’re looking for knockout, no, we never look for a knockout. So if it comes… Manny’s in great shape right now. And if Thurman wants to trade with us, he will get knocked out.”