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Pacquiao hands Thurman first loss in thriller

LAS VEGAS — There haven’t been many 40-year-old boxers in the long and storied and occasionally sordid history of this sport who have been able to keep the kind of pace Manny Pacquiao kept Saturday at the MGM Grand in his WBA welterweight title fight with Keith Thurman.

And there haven’t been many fighters in history quite like Pacquiao, who added another huge notch to his belt by handing Thurman his first defeat, taking a split decision. Judges Dave Moretti and Tim Cheatham had it 115-112 for Pacquiao, while Glenn Feldman had Thurman 114-113.

Yahoo Sports had it 116-111 for Pacquiao.

Manny Pacquiao, right, lands a punch against Keith Thurman in the fifth round during a welterweight title fight Saturday, July 20, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)Manny Pacquiao, right, lands a punch against Keith Thurman in the fifth round during a welterweight title fight Saturday, July 20, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Manny Pacquiao, right, lands a punch against Keith Thurman in the fifth round during a welterweight title fight Saturday, July 20, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

It was a brilliant and fast-paced fight, and should be in consideration for Fight of the Year. Pacquiao proved age is only a number with one of his best performances in the last decade.

Pacquiao dropped Thurman in the first with a hard right hook, and had him in trouble later in the the 10th with a blistering shot to the solar plexus that left Thurman reeling around the ring.

.@MannyPacquiao with a massive body shot in the 10th!

Eight-division World Champion Manny Pacquiao faces World Champion Keith Thurman for WBA supremacy! BUY NOW: https://t.co/AeIXwbC2Drpic.twitter.com/zkBRF3Uc2G

— FOX Sports: PBC (@PBConFOX) July 21, 2019

“He did his best,” Pacquiao said. “He’s a good boxer.”

With his long-time rival Floyd Mayweather seated at ringside, Pacquiao turned back the clock and look much like he did in his heyday. He was fast and powerful and Thurman admitted he couldn’t keep up with his opponent, who was 10 years his elder.

Thurman (29-1) fought well enough to win on most nights, but he hasn’t fought anyone the caliber of Pacquiao before.

“Manny Pacquiao is a truly great champion,” Thurman said. “ … I wish I had a little more output to go toe-to-toe. … My conditioning was a little behind Manny Pacquiao’s.”

Pacquiao said he likely won’t fight again until 2020. He improved to 62-7-2.

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