Former eight-division world champion Manny ‘Pac Man’ Pacquiao 61-7-2 (39) says that age is just a number ahead of his WBA welterweight title challenge against Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman 29-0 (22) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada this Saturday night.
The Filipino southpaw, who will turn 41 later this year, is 10 years older than Thurman and has had more than twice the number of professional fights.
“A lot of people are doubting my ability at the age of 40, so I have something to prove,” said Pacquiao during a media conference call on Thursday. “Right now, I’m still hungry and still enjoying this, and still doing my best.”
Pacquiao said he was expecting a better version of Thurman that we saw in January when he laboured to majority decision victory over fringe contender Josesito Lopez.
“Believe me, this is very interesting fight for me. It’s been a long time since I’ve focused like this. He is well prepared for this fight because he’s not fighting Lopez, he’s fighting Manny Pacquiao, so I expect him to work hard and to be 100%,” he said.
Freddie Roach, who manages Pacquiao’s training camp at his Wild Card gym in Hollywood, gave a guarded assessment of Thurman.
“He’s young and all that but I don’t think he’s the best Manny’s faced [since Floyd Mayweather]. He’s a good solid guy who should make for a very good fight,” Roach said.
“Talk’s talk, let’s see who really shows up. Thurman’s a strong guy, he’s a good puncher, but he hasn’t been in the ring with the speed that Manny Pacquiao has. Most people are overwhelmed with his speed once they get into the ring. Even at 40 years old it’s as good as ever.”
Pacquiao refused to be drawn on whether he thought an aggressive Thurman would play into his hands, but also said he would take the opportunity for an early night if it presented itself.
“I’m not predicting a knockout, I don’t want to be careless in the fight, but if he gives me the chance, why not?” said Pacquiao.
“I have to grab the opportunity to knock him out if it’s there. I think Thurman has speed, he’s quick, but I have to be careful in the fight, to make sure everything is fine.”