Manny Pacquiao expects 'exciting' unification fight against Keith Thurman

Filipino star will fight for his WBA 'world' title and the American's WBA 'super' belt on July 20

Jan 19, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Manny Pacquiao (black trunks) and Adrien Broner (purple/gold trunks) box during a WBA welterweight world title boxing match at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Pacquiao won via unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
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Manny Pacquiao says he is taking on one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in boxing when he faces Keith Thurman in the United States this summer.

The Filipino, the sport's only eight-division world champion, announced at the weekend that he will meet the undefeated Thurman on July 20, in a bout expected to take place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

The fight represents a welterweight title unification bout with both men, who each belong to the Premier Boxing Champions stable, holding versions of the WBA championship.

Pacquiao will make the second defence of the "world" welterweight crown he successfully defended for the first time earlier this year, when he defeated American Adrien Broner on points in January.

Meanwhile, Thurman ended almost two years out of boxing the following weekend, when he clinched a unanimous decision against American compatriot Josesito Lopez to retain the “super” welterweight belt. It lifted Thurman’s record to 29-0.

"I believe Keith Thurman is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in boxing," Pacquiao told Yahoo Sports. "That is why I am fighting him. He has faced and beaten two former welterweight champions, Robert Guerrero and Danny Garcia, and one current welterweight champion of the world, Shawn Porter. I have always looked for the best challenges in my career and Keith Thurman is an undefeated WBA super champion.

“He is the best 147-[pounder] available at this time so I watched some video of Thurman and saw that he brings an exciting style to the ring. That’s what the fans want, two of the best going at it. I want to entertain the fans.”

Last time out, Pacquiao saw off Broner convincingly, defeating the four-division champion on points in Las Vegas. The bout marked the 70th of Pacquiao’s professional career and the first since he turned 40 in December. His record reads 61-7-2, with 39 knockouts.

A senator in the Philippines, Pacquiao captured the WBA title last July when he registered a TKO victory against Lucas Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur – his first knockout in nearly nine years.

Thurman, 10 years his junior, returned to the ring in January following a 22-month lay-off caused primarily by injuries. Previous to the Lopez victory, he had last fought Danny Garica in March 2017, whom he defeated on points. Thurman has not recorded a knockout in almost four years.

“I would say Keith Thurman has looked rusty in the past,” Pacquiao said. “I do not think that will be an issue when we fight because he has already fought once this year. I anticipate an action fight from him.

“I liked the way he fought against Danny Garcia. I thought his style would match up well with mine. We are going to give the fans a great fight and an exciting night.”