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Keith Thurman’s trash talk is motivating Manny Pacquiao

Anthony Cocks

Australian-based boxing journalist Anthony Cocks has been covering the sport for over 15 years for various print and online publications. He refuses to believe that Roberto Duran ever lost to Tommy Hearns and says that Jeff Fenech would destroy Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on the same night.

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Former eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao says that Keith Thurman’s boasts are only motivating him further ahead of their clash at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 20.

“Training camp has been very good. We started in the Philippines before coming here and everything has been smooth. We picked this fight against Thurman because we believed we could give great action to the fans and I know I’ll be ready to deliver on my end,” said Pacquiao, who will be challenging for Thurman’s WBA welterweight title.

“The more Thurman talks, the more it will help me. His words are motivating me and encouraging me to work even harder day after day.

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“Boxing is about throwing punches, not who has the bigger body. My speed and power will speak for itself. He may underestimate me now, but he’ll talk differently once he’s in the ring with me.”

Thurman returned from an almost two-year injury induced layoff to score a majority decision win over lightly regarded Josesito Lopez in January, but Pacquiao insists he isn’t reading too much into that performance.

“I’m not taking too much from Keith’s performance against Josesito Lopez. We understand he was coming off of a layoff. I know that he’s not going to take me lightly. I expect him to be 100% in the ring,” he said.

“I always feel like I have the ability to beat any fighter out there. I’m still in this sport and I’m planning on a lot more memorable victories.

“Thurman reminds me the most of Ricky Hatton, of fighters that I’ve faced. Will it be the same result? You never know.

“When you work hard in the gym, you can do what you want to do in the ring. It makes it easy and that’s our goal here in camp.

“It’s going to be another page of my story on Saturday, July 20. There’s a big chance that this fight is not going the distance. I’ll be prepared, but I’m thinking it’s not going 12 rounds.

“I always try to push myself and punish myself in training. That’s the key to my career. It leads to everything I can do. My speed, power and footwork all come together from my hard work.”

The 40-year-old Filipino’s coach Buboy Fernandez says his star pupil still has the speed and power required to get the win against the 30-year-old American.

“We always study our opponent before training camp and determine what we’ll focus on based off that. We have great sparring partners for Thurman. The biggest difference these days is that we have more days off than when Manny was younger,” said Fernandez.

“Manny still has the speed and the power. This is going to be a great fight on July 20. Manny wants to fight toe-to-toe and show the whole world that he can still fight.”

Former coach Freddie Roach, who continues to work with Pacquiao as an advisor, refused to predict a knockout but said he expected Pacquiao to break down the champion in the later rounds.

“I am not predicting a knockout. We are just counting on winning every round, one at a time,” Roach said.

“I think Manny is going to go down as a one of the greatest fighters of all time. I still have a long way to go to become the greatest trainer in the world.

“I like Manny in the later rounds, that’s where he usually excels. Thurman, to me, that is where he usually starts fading, especially in his last two fights. He starts out quickly and fades as the fight goes on.

“Manny has heard the trash talk from Thurman and he’s not happy about it. But Manny isn’t the type of guy to carry anger into a fight. He will fight the smart fight and stick with the game plan that we have set out to win this fight.

“I think so at this point because he does power with his left hand and then he goes with the big overhand right and that was one of his favourite moves during that time. The left hook does seem to have taken over in that last fight and I just don’t think he’s as much as he was that one time.”

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