Manny Pacquiao, Keith Thurman
AP Photo

Manny Pacquiao steps back in the ring to challenge undefeated WBA welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman Saturday night in Las Vegas.

Jason Leach

The only eight-division champion in boxing history, Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs), returns to the ring to take on undefeated WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs). The fight will take place Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

It can be seen on Premier Boxing Champions on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

Pacquiao is still one of the most popular and entertaining fighters in boxing. But at 40 years old, he’s clearly not the fighter he was a decade ago when he knocked out Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto in a span of 11 months.

However, Pacquiao can still show flashes of the fighter he was a decade ago as he did in his last fight when he easily defeated Adrien Broner by unanimous decision in January.

Thurman is one of the most dangerous fighters Pacquiao will face in his career. He has tremendous punching power, especially in his right hand, and he has a two-inch reach advantage over Pacquiao. Thurman also has a 10-year age advantage as he’s only 30 years old.

Thurman has already defeated two of the best welterweights in the world in Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia. Now, he’s looking to add the biggest name on his resume in Pacquiao.

Thurman is highly confident heading into Saturday night.

“Manny isn’t going to do anything,” Thurman said. “With the little ‘T-Rex’ arms. He’s about to get beat up. I get to punch a Senator in the face and he’s going to feel it. If he’s upset about it, he can do something about it Saturday night. It’s called swing, swing, swing baby.”

Pacquiao isn’t fazed by Thurman’s bravado. Instead, he’s focused on the task at hand and that’s to earn his 62nd professional victory on Saturday night.

“For me nothing is personal,” Pacquiao said. “I have to do my job and there is nothing personal with him. Our job is to fight and he has to prove something, and I have to prove something. That’s why I’m so motivated for this fight and this training camp. It’s also my first time fighting on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View, so I’m excited to fight on Saturday.”

Pacquiao may be at a disadvantage when it comes to age and reach-power at this point of his career. But there’s one thing he has in his favor that could play a huge role on Saturday night. Pacquiao has been the more active fighter.

This will be Thurman’s second fight since he defeated Garcia via split decision in March of 2017. Surgery to his right elbow along with an injury to his left hand kept him out of action until this January when he fought Josesito Lopez and won by majority decision and showed ring rust.

This will be Pacquiao’s fourth fight since Thurman’s win over Garcia. If Thurman is still showing ring rust, the fast hands of Pacquiao can exploit that.

Win or lose on Saturday night, Pacquiao’s legacy is secure, as he’ll go down as one of the best fighters of his era. However, a loss on Saturday night could mean the end of Pacquiao’s big profile fights and possibly the end of his career as a prizefighter.

The welterweight division is loaded with talent with Thurman, Porter, Garcia, along with WBO champion Terence Crawford and IBF champion Errol Spence Jr. It’s hard to envision Pacquiao, who turns 41 in December, will remain relevant at the top of the division if he loses to Thurman.

Therefore, Pacquiao will look to turn back the clock on Saturday night and hand Thurman his first defeat, thus remaining relevant in the welterweight division.

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