By Mark Elezaj

LAS VEGAS – Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao showed once again why he is considered to be an all time great last night, by beating a young lion in Keith Thurman via split decision and becoming the welterweight world champion, in front of 14,356 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, becoming the oldest welterweight to ever win a major title, at the age of 40.

Two judges, Tim Cheatham and Dave Moretti, scored the fight for Pacquiao (115-112), but Judge Glenn Feldman had it 114-113 for Thurman.

The Fighting Voice had it 117-110 for Pacquiao.

Pacquiao landed 195 of 686 (28%) total punches to Thurman’s 210-571 (37%).

Both men went right at each other with big punches from the opening bell. Each fighter landed clean, solid shots, but it was Pacquiao’s straight hand that landed flush and knocked Thurman down in the final seconds of the first round.

In the second round, Pacquiao began throwing punches in bunches from different angles. Thurman looked to respond, but he was unable to land anything big.

In the third round, Thurman came out much more aggressively, attacking Pacquiao up against the ropes with a flurry of punches. Pacquiao, however, was able to respond, stopping Thurman’s onslaught with quick counters and foot work.

Pacquiao began to attack Thurman’s body late in the fourth round. Thurman responded with a hard left of his own to Pacquiao’s body, backing Pacquiao into the ropes, but Pacquiao returned fire with two left hands that landed clean, backing Thurman off.

In the fifth round, Thurman began to get his jab going, pushing the action and attacking Pacquiao. He had some success landing to the body, but Pacquiao was able to force him back with quick combinations. Thurman looked a little shaky and was bleeding from his nose by the end of the round.

In the sixth round, the action slowed down a bit. Thurman began to push pace, landing the cleaner shots on Pacquiao. Referee Bayless had to warn Thurman for hitting Pacquiao with a low blow. As the action continued, Thurman landed a straight right hand on Pacquiao’s face, his best punch of the night so far.

Thurman continued to be aggressive in the seventh round, backing up Pacquiao and landing right hands. Pacquiao began to tap his own head with both gloves showing that he could take Thurmans power. Pacquiao landed a right uppercut, snapping Thurman’s head back late in the seventh.

Pacquiao and Thurman traded big shots early in the eighth round. Thurman landed a straight right hand backing up Pacquiao into the ropes. Pacquiao responded with an overhand left, backing up Thurman and causing his nose to bleed again.

In the ninth round, both fighters exchanged in a fierce, toe-to-toe exchange. Thurman was able to back Pacquiao to the ropes and unload shots, but Pacquiao quickly responded, attacking Thurman with quick combinations.

In the tenth round, Pacquiao seemingly in control, hurt Thurman with a left hand to the body. Thurman winced and was on the defensive, trying to get away from Pacquiao, who continued to throw punches, landing big shots.

Pacquiao stunned Thurman early in the 11th round, landing a left to his head. Thurman continued to attack Pacquiao, making the round a competitive one.

The bell sounded for the 12th round. Pacquiao and Thurman met at the center of the ring, touched gloves, stood toe to toe with one another, trading punches until the final bell ended a truly exciting fight.

“Even though Thurman lost, he did his best,” Pacquiao said. “He’s not an easy opponent. He’s a good boxer, strong, and I think I’m just blessed tonight” Pacquiao said.

“I really love the fans. Thank you so much for coming here and witnessing the fight,

“I’m sure they were happy tonight because they saw a good fight” Pacquiao added.

“I knew it was too close,” Thurman said. “You know, he got the knockdown, so he had momentum in round one. I wanna thank the fans, thank everyone for coming out. This was a beautiful night of boxing. Manny Pacquiao is a truly great, legendary champion… He got the victory over me. 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. My conditioning, my output was just behind Manny Pacquiao. It was a great night of boxing. I would love the rematch. It is what it is, baby.

“You get blessings and lessons. Tonight was a blessing and a lesson,” Thurman said. “Thank you everybody, and thank you Manny Pacquiao.”

Pacquiao said he may likely return to the ring next year. As of right now, he will return to the Philippines to be in the Senate when it goes back into session, and will make his decision about his next fight in the upcoming months.

The obvious fight for him would be a title unification match against the winner of the Errol Spence Jr. vs. Shawn Porter fight, which was announced at a news conference on Saturday.

“I hope to be at that fight on Sept. 28,” Pacquiao said.

Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman left it all in the ring, they both gave the fans a competitive, back and forth, action packed title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena last night.

~ The Fighting Voice ~

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