July 17, 2019
LOS ANGELES: One big lucky punch is what American Keith Thurman needs to beat Filipino co-WBA welterweight belt-holder Manny Pacquiao in their unification encounter on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas.
This was how Pacquiao’s sparring partners sized up the fight, where “One Time” promised to retire and crucify the 40-year-old lawmaker.
“No way can Thurman beat Manny via other means unless he knocks him out,” AB Lopez, the Filipino’s regular dancing partner from the time he landed here declared.
“Yeah, Keith must, indeed, be a strong puncher, quick as advertised. But he can’t be stronger and quicker than Manny,” Lopez said. “I should know, I have been working with him for more than a month every other day.”
“Meaning, if there’s somebody other than the trainers, I have been privy to his improvement and development from the time we first met here in LA,” Lopez, a protégé of now training consultant Freddie Roach, added.
Lopez had 57 rounds of trading punches with Pacquiao.
He, too, expressed doubt whether Thurman has had the opportunity of acquiring the services of boxers with the caliber of Pacquiao.
“I haven’t even seen him fight an opponent as strong and as fast as Manny,” Lopez said.
Another junior 147-pound mate of Pacquiao, Jessie Roman, agreed.
“I have been in the camp for three weeks and I’m really amazed at how Manny had adapted to every thing I did to him,” Roman noted.
“The way he adjusted fighting the distance, avoiding my advantage in height and length, I really haven’t met a guy like Manny,” he said.
Roman has logged 27 rounds of skirmishes with Pacquiao.
Including the 20 rounds with Arnold Gonzales at the start of the camp, Pacquiao had a total of 102 rounds of sparring here in LA.
Before the four-round sparring session, Pacquiao scaled the mountainous Griffith Park on Monday morning before leading a motorcade to Las Vegas.
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