Manny Pacquiao knocked down Keith Thurman in the first round and persevered for an exciting split-decision victory Saturday night, adding a third straight win to his career resurgence after turning 40 years old.
Pacquiao (62-7-2) dropped his previously unbeaten opponent with a combination late in the first round, and the Pac-Man dominated the opening rounds with a combination of flair and power that recalled the incredible prime of the only eight-division champion in boxing history.
Thurman (29-1) showed remarkable tenacity in rallying through the middle rounds, repeatedly testing Pacquiao’s chin with big shots. Neither fighter managed another knockdown, but they pushed relentlessly in front of a sellout crowd at the MGM Grand Garden that repeatedly chanted the Filipino senator’s name from the moment he reached the ring.
“It was fun,” Pacquiao said. “My opponent is a good fighter and boxer. He was strong. … I think he did his best, and I did my best. I think we made the fans happy tonight because it was a good fight.”
Two judges scored the bout 115-112 for Pacquiao, while Glenn Feldman scored it 114-113 for Thurman. The Associated Press also scored it 115-112 for Pacquiao.
Thurman called for a rematch, and the crowd vocally approved.
Nearly 25 years after a 16-year-old Pacquiao stepped onto the scales for his pro debut with rocks in his pockets just to make the 105-pound minimum weight, the 40-year-old politician showed he could have several years left in his day job.
Thurman had been eager to retire Pacquiao, but he couldn’t hurt the ageless wonder.