Manny Pacquiao 62-7-2 (39) proved that age is just a number of Saturday night as he turned back a spirited challenge from Keith Thurman 29-1 (22) to annex the WBA welterweight championship at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The 40-year-old, who has won world titles in eight separate weight classes, fought like a man half his age as he scored a first-round knockdown and controlled much of the action to earn a split decision victory by scores of 115-112, 115-112 and 113-114.
Pacquiao’s fitness and experience held him in good stead at crucial moments in the fight.
“He’s been in so many wars, he just knows what to do at the right time,” Thurman conceded. “I had a good training camp but I felt like I needed a better output to go toe to toe with Manny Pacquiao.”
Pacquiao has now returned to the Philippines where he will resume his senatorial duties before a planned return to the ring in the new year.
“Someone just asked me ‘What’s next?’,” long-time trainer Freddie Roach said to AFP. “Well, you know what? We don’t need to think about what’s next for a while.
“Manny can go away and rest and we’ll think about it later on. We need to see what’s out there.”
Roach added that Pacquiao’s dream rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr – who Pacquiao lost a points decision to in 2015 – is unlikely to happen.
The 42-yer-old Mayweather, who retired in 2017 after defeating MMA star Conor McGregor in a big-money fight in Las Vegas, has repeatedly dismissed talk of a rematch with Pacquiao.
“I can’t see it,” Roach said. “Floyd’s retired and his people say there is no interest. But there will be other options.”
Roach praised Pacquiao’s energy levels and endurance in the Thurman fight and said the Filipino superstar could keep boxing professionally for some time yet.
“Manny never gets tired in the gym, but he got tired in the middle rounds tonight,” he said. “I was keeping a close eye on it. But Manny is so fit he got through it and finished strong.
“I think he showed tonight that there’s plenty of boxing left in him, even if he is in his 40s.”