Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao 62-7-2 (39) rolled back the clock to score a split decision victory over Keith Thurman 29-1 (22) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday night.
The 40-year-old Pacquiao fought like the younger man against Thurman, who is 10 years his junior, to win by scores of 115-112 twice and 113-114 in front of a sell-out crowd of 14,356 people.
Southpaw Pacquiao decked Thurman with a right hook in the opening round and kept his foot on the gas to finish the stronger of the pair in the championship rounds.
“It was fun,” Pacquiao said afterwards. “My opponent is a good fighter and boxer. He was strong.”
Thurman had promised to “crucify” the deeply religious Pacquiao in the lead-up to the fight and send him into retirement.
“I’m not that kind of boxer who talks a lot; we were just promoting the fight,” Thurman said. “He’s a good boxer and he’s strong. I was just blessed tonight.”
Pacquiao, who earned an estimated $20 million from Saturday’s fight, claimed the WBA welterweight title with the win.
The Filipino senator is now expected to return to duty in his home country ahead of a ring return in 2020.
“I think I will fight next year,” he said. “I will go back to the Philippines and work and then make a decision.”
Thurman said he had no complaints about the result but said he thought the fight was close.
“I knew it was too close,” Thurman said. “He got the knockdown so he had momentum in round one.
“This was a beautiful night of boxing. I wish I had a little bit more output to go toe to toe. I felt like he was getting a little bit tired, but he did have experience in the ring. I would love the rematch.”