Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao rolled back the years to become the oldest welterweight champion in boxing history with a thrilling split decision victory over WBA champion Keith Thurman on Saturday night.
The 40-year-old Pacquiao, 10 years older than the previously undefeated Thurman, delivered a vintage performance before a sellout MGM Grand Garden Arena crowd of 14 356 which included former welterweight king Floyd Mayweather.
Pacquiao floored Thurman with an electrifying combination in the first round and remained on the front foot throughout a pulsating 12-round duel.
Although the bloodied Thurman rallied in the later rounds to narrow Pacquiao’s lead, the judges scored it in the Filipino’s favour. Two judges scored it 115-112 for Pacquiao with the third scoring it 114-113 for Thurman.
“It was fun,” Pacquiao said afterwards.
“My opponent is a good fighter and boxer. He was strong.”
Thurman had riled Pacquiao in the build-up to the fight by vowing to “crucify” his deeply religious opponent, and later promising to send the Filipino icon into retirement.
Pacquiao, who improved to 62-7-2 with 39 knockouts, was gracious in victory. “I’m not that kind of boxer who talks a lot; we were just promoting the fight,” he said.
“I want to clap my opponent. He’s very tough. He can fight. This guy is a warrior.” Pacquiao, who earned an estimated US$20 million from Saturday’s fight, is now a major player in the competitive welterweight division once again after capturing Thurman’s WBA welterweight “super” champion belt. — AFP.