Clearwater welterweight champion Keith Thurman did not mince words Tuesday during a New York media conference aimed at promoting his World Boxing Association championship bout with the legendary Manny Pacquiao.
“For those who know boxing and truly understand boxing history, time’s change,” said Thurman, who will take on Pacquiao in a pay-per-view bout (Premier Boxing Champions) on July 20 at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. “I believe boxing has come to a new era. Floyd (Mayweather) is gone, Pacquiao is here. Come July 20, he will disappear.”
After a 22-month layoff due to an elbow injury, Thurman returned to action in January and defeated Josesito Lopez to retain his WBA welterweight title and move to 29-0 with 22 knockouts. At the Tuesday media conference, posted on YouTube, Thurman said he had long dreamed of taking on legends like Mayweather and Pacquiao, who won election to the Philippine senate in 2016 and continues to serve.
“He announced him as a senator. He belongs as a senator — in the Philippines,” Thurman boasted. “With all due respect, he’s a legend. He will always be remembered in the sport, but I’m going to do to Manny Pacquiao what he did to Oscar de la Hoya. You can Google it if you want to, but Oscar de la Hoya never fought again.”
Of course, for all Thurman’s bravado, the boxing world still reveres Pacquiao, who continues to fight at the age of 40. He’s earned titles in eight weight classes during 24 years in the ring, but now finds himself a decided underdog against Thurman.
“Keith Thurman is the kind of fighter you can respect," Pacquiao said. "He is undefeated and this gives me more encouragement, motivation to work hard — like I did before, in my previous fights with big names in boxing.
“I will make sure I am in 100 percent condition and ready for the fight, and let’s see who is tougher in the ring on July 20. It is going to be exciting and I like it. I like it I am the underdog for this fight, this is fun, this is what I want.”
Times Staff Writer Joey Knight contributed to this story. Contact Ernest Hooper at [email protected]. Follow @hoop4you. Sign up for Hooper’s weekly newsletter at https://www.email1.tampabay.com/tbt/tbtreg2.html