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Six-time world champion Manny Pacquiao is 40 years old.

Often injured undefeated WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman, whom Pacquiao fights this Saturday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV, is 10 years younger. Thurman hardly impressed in his last fight.

Forty is old for most competitors. Especially boxers. Pacquiao, a future Hall of Famer, has been fighting for 25 years. He’s compiled a record of 61-7-2, with 39 knockouts.

Age has been mentioned a lot in the weeks leading up to the fight. But are boxing experts making too much out of it? Trainer Freddie Roach sure thinks so.

“Manny loves beating undefeated fighters, especially the younger ones,” Roach said in an article on boxingscene.com. “Heck, at this stage of the game, everyone Manny faces is younger. But that makes it fun for Manny. And when Manny is having fun, his opponents had better watch out.”

Pacquiao’s career path has been incredible. He picked up his first world title in 1998 while campaigning as a flyweight. Last year, he won something called a WBA “regular” welterweight title. The weight difference between a flyweight and welterweight is 35 pounds. Pacquiao’s ability to move up in weight has been utterly amazing. Nobody has matched what he’s done.

Keith Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs) has campaigned as a welterweight for most of his 12-year career. Thurman, at almost 5’8″, will have a slight height advantage over Pacquaio when they meet. That advantage could work both ways. Pacquiao is used to fighting taller boxers. Thurman, nicknamed, “One-time” for his one punch knockout power, shot up the welterweight rankings quickly.

In 2013, he made a strong impression by knocking out Diego Gabriel Chavez. Two years later, he defeated Robert Guerrero to win his first championship belt. His biggest victories are over former and present champions, Danny Garcia, and Shawn Porter.

There are many intangibles in this match. Pacquaio appeared ready for retirement two years ago, but after vanquishing Adrien Broner and Lucas Matthysse, he looked refreshed.

Thurman was out of the ring almost two years due to back injuries sustained in an automobile accident, and elbow surgery. When he finally returned last January, he struggled to victory over fringe-contender Josesito Lopez.

“I definitely felt ring rust that night,” Thurman told Dennis Taylor and this writer on The Ringside Boxing Show. “There were times where there were certain combinations I wanted to throw, but they weren’t really coming out. I was a little hesitant to do what was on my mind.

“But I’ve taken the momentum of that (Lopez) training camp into this training camp. This training camp is already a far better camp for this fight.”

Ring rust or not, Thurman will have to perform at a higher level against Pacquiao. It hasn’t helped that Thurman hasn’t looked very good in training, while Pacqioa has appeared crisp and swift.

Pacquaio is quick, but so is Thurman. Angles will be his best friend against the aggressive Pacquaio. Thurman can fight on the run, which should help him, but he was also buzzed in his last fight and – Pacquiao can punch.

These factors contributed in making the odds extremely close. When the fight was announced, Thurman was a slight favorite. Now it’s Pacquiao.

Both have been known to tire late. Will age rear its ugly head then?

The world will know in five days.

Source: John J. Raspanti

www.sports24ghana.com