Thurman looks to end Pacquiao’s resurgent career in showdown

Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman pose in Las Vegas during a weigh-in on Friday. (AP)
Updated 21 July 2019

Thurman looks to end Pacquiao’s resurgent career in showdown

  • Manny Pacquiao: I’ve been in boxing longer than Keith Thurman, so my experience will be the difference

LAS VEGAS: Keith Thurman certainly seems like more than the modern Manny Pacquiao should be able to handle.
Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs) is a decade younger, certainly more powerful and maybe even a bit faster than his famously speedy opponent. Thurman is a tough, voluble welterweight champion in his prime competitive years, and Pacquiao represents the biggest fight of his career — a once-in-a-lifetime chance to pound a boxing great into retirement.
“It’s been a buildup and a progression my whole career toward this moment on Saturday night,” Thurman said. “This really is the outcome of an individual living out their dream.”
So why are the 40-year-old Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) and trainer Freddie Roach so confident heading into the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas? And why is the older eight-division champion actually a slight betting favorite against one of the best 147-pounders in the world?
After 18 years together, Pacquiao and Roach believe Thurman is just another challenge to be overcome by hard work, smart planning and the psychological edge of experience.
Thurman looks daunting on paper, but Pacquiao and Roach are virtuosos on canvas.
“Tomorrow night, class is in session,” Pacquiao said Friday after the weigh-in. “I hope Keith Thurman studied hard, because Professor Pacquiao gives very hard tests.”
Pacquiao and Thurman both hold versions of the WBA 147-pound title heading into this Fox Sports pay-per-view showdown.
In Roach’s educated mind, the vaunted Thurman has far more questions to answer than Pacquiao, who is coming into this fight off back-to-back victories over Lucas Matthysse and Adrien Broner.
Can Thurman recapture his prime fighting form after two years of relative inactivity caused by a 22-month injury layoff? Can he match Pacquiao’s legendary speed while showing the stamina to fight effectively for 12 rounds against Manny’s famed pace?
“I hope Thurman brings his best, because that’s when Manny will be at his best,” Roach said. “Thurman is a good fighter, but Manny beats good fighters all the time. And I don’t think Keith Thurman is a great fighter. I think Broner is a better fighter, and Manny took care of him (easily).”
While Thurman is in the biggest bout of his career, the Filipino senator’s late-career resurgence also reaches a vital point Saturday. Despite what Roach says, Thurman seems certain to be a big step up in competition from Matthysse and Broner, and the cumulative effects of a boxing career rarely wear well after 40.
“Manny isn’t going to do anything with those little T-Rex arms,” Thurman said. “He’s about to get beat up. I get to punch a senator in the face, and he’s going to feel it.”
Thurman earned the nickname “One Time” with his one-punch knockout power, yet he has stopped just one of his seven opponents since December 2013. And though Thurman is still in his ostensible prime, he has shown a few signs of weariness with his sport.
He has never looked more vulnerable as a professional than he did in his comeback victory last January over tough veteran Josesito Lopez, who rocked Thurman repeatedly and even won a 10-8 round without a knockdown. More recently, Thurman has repeatedly spoken about how he’s eager to get a few big paydays and then get out of boxing — a sensible mentality that nonetheless could indicate a fighter’s focus isn’t completely on competition anymore.
Thurman has been totally focused in public appearances for this big-money bout, however.
“I’m going to do to Manny Pacquiao what he did to Oscar De La Hoya,” Thurman said, referring to Pacquiao’s landmark victory over the Golden Boy in 2008.
While Thurman would love to retire his opponent, Pacquiao plans to keep competing indefinitely, and he doesn’t dismiss the notion of fighting to 50 and beyond, as Bernard Hopkins did. He has openly looked beyond Thurman to his hopes of a second fight with the retired Floyd Mayweather, or a unification bout with champion Errol Spence.
But just in case anybody believes he isn’t focused on Thurman, Pacquiao said that even his mother took offense at Thurman’s pre-fight trash talk , including his vow to punish the vocally evangelical Pacquiao.
“I’m just always smiling, no matter what Keith says,” Pacquiao said. “It’s easy to say things, but it’s not easy to do it in the ring. I’ve been in this sport longer than Keith Thurman, so my experience will be the difference.”


Saudi showjumpers ride for places in Tokyo Olympics team

Updated 16 December 2019

Saudi showjumpers ride for places in Tokyo Olympics team

  • International exposure key to Saudi riders’ success: Equestrian federation chief
  •  Visitors enjoyed a fun and exciting atmosphere as riders gave their best performances on the field

RIYADH: Saudi showjumpers at this month’s Diriyah Equestrian Festival aren’t just riding to win — they are battling for places at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, the country’s equestrian chief said on Sunday.

“Saudi riders’ participation in international championships is very important,” said Prince Abdullah bin Fahd bin Abdullah, president of the Saudi Equestrian Federation.

“Coming in contact with international riders will provide them with what they need to achieve their ambitions, which we all know are very big. That is why Saudi riders always have remarkable presence on the international level — hard competitors to beat, like the young rider Waleed Al-Ghamdi, who came second in the first stage of the competition.

“We are waiting for the results of this championship to draft the program for the Tokyo Olympics. We have a good chance at winning but, in this sport one can never be sure until the end of the stage. We will always be sure of the self-confidence our riders have, which will be felt as they represent the Kingdom in any competition,” he added.

Prince Abdullah expressed his happiness at the start of the first stage of the International Show Jumping Championship as part of the Diriyah Equestrian Festival

“The success is due to God, the support the sport has from the wise leadership of Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority (GSA)," he said

The festival — which concludes next weekend, Dec. 19-21 — is taking place at Al-Duhami Farm, the equestrian arena built by Saudi Olympic legend Ramzy Al-Duhami and his wife Sara Baban.

In addition to showjumping, the attractions include art and photography exhibitions, cultural activities and a range of cafes and restaurants.

Visitors enjoyed a fun and exciting atmosphere as riders gave their best performances on the field, showcasing their skills and talents.

Diriyah has always been a symbol of authenticity and culture, while entertainment came with its international sports activities characterized by their sophistication, strength and diversity.

Mohammed Al-Mudayfar, owner of the artistic incubator “Resin Art” taking part in the activities, said: “The exhibition aims at highlighting the Kingdom’s identity in line with the festival’s. By participating, I seek to revive the Kingdom’s culture and introduce it to the visitors.

'Resin Art' exhibition is part of the activities lined up during the two-week Diriyah Equestrian Festival. (Photo/Supplied)

“The exhibition includes 60 Saudi artworks. They received huge support so they can showcase them in a suitable manner, in line with this year’s fun and exciting activities,” he added, noting: “Featured handicrafts, paintings and sculptures are all up for sale.  

“We provide the necessary space and materials for any artist that wishes to showcase his work. Supporting young Saudis and talented ones in particular is a national duty that society should sense its importance especially when it is related to our heritage and traditions.”

The activities area had a part dedicated to kids that has educational and entertainment activities such as painting horse heads made of cork.

Another exhibition called “Objectives” managed by 24-year-old Lama Al-Thubaiti offered visitors a variety of jewelry and accessories that could be modified according to their requests. Al-Thubaiti works as a doctor for people with hearing disabilities and has been working to develop her brand for five years now.

“We are very happy with the visitors’ reaction and our presence here is remarkable as we get ready to open our headquarters soon,” she said.  

The activities area also featured a wide range of restaurants, Saudi and international cafes, a photography corner and cultural facilities such as Arabian and historic horse exhibition, engraving, henna and local artists.

Diriyah Equestrian Festival is taking place for the second year in a row to bring the international event to the Kingdom, reflect the traditional values of equestrianism according to European standards. The event will run for two weeks, providing participants with the chance to qualify to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the World Championship.