Eight-division boxing world champion and current WBA (regular) welterweight champion Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao will take on undefeated WBA (super) welterweight champion Keith “One-Time” Thurman in a big-time welterweight showdown on Saturday, July 20, 2019, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Thurman presents the biggest challenge for the future Hall-of-Famer Pacquiao in recent years. The Filipino fighting lawmaker has fought Jessie Vargas, Jeff Horn, Lucas Matthysse and Adrien Broner in his last four bouts. On the other hand, Pacquiao is the biggest name Thurman will have ever faced in his career and this high-stakes match will give the winner a right to claim one of the top spots in one of boxing’s most talent-laden weight classes.

Preceding the main event is the first title defense by undefeated IBF Super Middleweight champion Caleb “Sweet Hands” Plant against unbeaten challenger Mike Lee.

“Boxing" Manny Pacquiao vs Keith Thurman

Pacquiao is the sport’s only eight-division champion and the current WBA (regular) champion. He is coming off a one-sided unanimous decision win over Adrien “The Problem” Broner last January 19th. Prior to that, Pacman displayed his old form when he disposed of Lucas Matthysse in seven rounds. Pacquiao talked about fighting again in July after beating Broner. He was linked to Errol Spence for a while but in the end, Al Haymon matched the Filipino ring legend against Thurman.

Pacquiao is already 40 years old and has been fighting since 1995. The Pacman has an outstanding record of 61-7-2 with 39 wins by knockout. He stands 5-6 tall with a reach of 76 inches and fights out of the southpaw stance. Since his loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015, Pacquiao is 4-1 with his only loss that controversial 2017 split decision defeat to Jeff Horn in Australia.

In his prime, Pacquiao was the sport’s most feared offensive machine. Possessing tremendous punching power in both hands, quickness of feet, extremely fast hands and unorthodox punching angles, Pacquiao blitzed one weight class after another. He’s had only one knockout win since 2009 but the older Pacquiao has been a much smarter boxer who has developed good defense as well as excellent boxing skills.

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Odds from bet365 as of 5/23/19

Thurman was supposed to be the heir of the welterweight division. But injuries and inactivity pushed him in the backseat. After defeating Danny Garcia in 2017 to unify the WBA and WBC belts, Thurman underwent elbow surgery and missed the entire 2018. He finally returned to action last January, one week after Pacquiao beat Broner. Thurman looked rusty but still managed to beat a game Josesito Lopez via decision.

One-Time is only just 30 years old. The Clearwater, Florida native has a professional boxing record of 29-0-1 with 22 knockouts. Thurman stands 5-7 tall and has a reach of 69 inches. He has been the WBA welterweight champion since 2013 when he won the interim belt against Diego Chaves. In his last bout, Thurman struggled but beat Josesito Lopez by decision.

Thurman is known as one of the hardest hitters at 147 pounds. Aside from his vaunted punching power, Thurman has excellent technical skills and is a very skilled boxer. He also has fast hands and is light on his feet. Thurman is also very durable as he has been knocked down just once in his career, in 2010 by Quandray Robertson. He came back to knock out Robertson in that bout.

“Boxing" Who Wins?

This is an interesting fight to call. Thurman has physical advantages over Pacquiao. He is a decade younger, an inch taller and two inches longer. On the other hand, Pacquiao has the edge in experience and is the better boxer between the two. Both have punching power and based on Pacquiao’s recent bouts, it may be Thurman who has the edge in punching power here.

Since he was knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in their third fight, Pacquiao hasn’t been as aggressive as he used to be. He’s more calculated and just uses his boxing skills and power to keep his opponents’ off him. Pacman’s boxing has gotten better with age and combined with his natural gift of punching power, he’s been able to come up with decent wins even past his prime.

Before surgery, Thurman would have been almost been a huge betting favorite over Pacquiao. After beating Danny Garcia, One-Time had established himself as the top welterweight in the sport. However, if we look at his last fight, Thurman looked like a shell of his old self and was nearly stopped by Josesito Lopez. The long layoff may have taken its toll on Thurman but whether that was ring rust or that is the new Thurman, post-elbow surgery, that remains to be seen.

I think this is a 50-50 fight because Pacquiao still has the skills to beat anybody in the business. That said, he is already 40 and the fear is that if he grows old overnight. Pacquiao has shown in the past that he can train despite distractions but his political career in his country has taken much of his time away from the ring.

I think Pacquiao gives a good account of himself. But in the end, rusty or not, Keith Thurman is going to have his way because of his size and speed. Pacquiao is still fast by all measures but he isn’t the dynamo we used to admire. Thurman is coming off a bad fight and will want to bounce back. Pacquiao is the perfect springboard for stardom. Prediction: Keith Thurman by Decision

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“Boxing" Caleb Plant vs Mike Lee

Caleb Plant is one of the PBC’s young talents. He signed with the PBC in 2014 and won eight out of his first nine bouts by knockout. The former 2011 Golden Glove winner and 2012 Olympic alternate challenged Jose Uzcategui for the world title last year. He dropped Uzcategui twice and won the title by unanimous decision.

The champion is 26-years of age and stands 6-1 tall with a reach of 74 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance. The Ashland City, Tennessee native has an unblemished record of 18-0 with 10 knockouts. In his most recent bout, Plant outboxed Jose Uzcategui to win his first world title.

What are the Moneyline Odds?





Odds from bet365 as of 5/23/19

Mike Lee is the current IBF-USBA light heavyweight champion. He is ranked #9 by the WBA, #12 by the WBC and #!5 by the WBO in the 175-pound division. It’s a wonder why he’s moving down to 168 to face Plant. From 2012-14, he missed two years after suffering from an autoimmune disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis

Lee has an undefeated record of 21-0 with 11 knockouts. The 31-year old from Downers Grove, Illinois stands 6-0 tall with a reach of 74 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance. In his last fight in June 2018, Lee won a 10-round unanimous decision over Jose Hernandez.

“Boxing" Who Wins?

This was weird matchmaking by the promoters but then again, they may have been looking after Caleb Plant’s well-being. In Mike Lee, the PC is matching Plant with a natural light-heavyweight not a contender from the 168-pound weight class. Lee is ranked in the Top 15 by the WBA, WBC, and WBO but as a light heavyweight, not as a super middleweight.

Another factor is Lee’s inactivity. The 31-year old has fought just once in the last 18 months. His last bout was in June 2018. His previous fight prior to that was in September 2017 and since he won that fight via 1st round knockout, he’s fought just 11 rounds in nearly two years. Other than that, Lee has faced poor opposition. If you look at his resume, there isn’t a familiar name on it.

On the other hand, Plant fought just once in 2018 but this will be his second fight of 2019. His fight resume isn’t outstanding, but it’s eons better than Mike Lee’s. Lee has gone 10 rounds just twice in his career. Meanwhile, Plant has gone the distance (10 or 12 rounds) in his last five bouts. The longer this fight goes, the more it will be to Caleb Plant’s advantage and I think that’s what happens here.

Plant was able to outbox Uzcategui in his previous bout and he’s never been dropped before ( at least none that I saw at boxrec). Lee will go for the knockout early but Plant is going to weather that storm and take his opponent to the later rounds. I think Caleb Plant outboxes Lee thoroughly and wins by a wide decision: Prediction: Caleb Plant

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