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Manny Pacquiao mum, Keith Thurman boastful as title fight looms

Updated July 17, 2019 - 7:58 pm

Manny Pacquiao sat dispassionately Wednesday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. That is, until his opponent, Keith Thurman, unveiled his intentions for their WBA welterweight title fight.

“He’s about to get beat up. I get to punch a senator in the face,” Thurman said. “He’s going to feel it. And if he’s upset about it, he can do something about it Saturday night. It’s called swing, swing, swing, baby.”

Finally, Pacquiao flashed a boyish grin — followed by a humble chuckle.

“It’s easy to say,” he said. “But I don’t know if it’s easy to do in the ring.”

Pacquiao, who has won titles in eight divisions, and Thurman all but concluded the fight’s promotion with a news conference atop a makeshift stage inside the arena. Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 knockouts) was quiet and humble, while Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs) unleashed his braggadocios barbs ahead of the most prominent fight of his career.

They will square off Saturday night for Thurman’s title at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, where Pacquiao will be fighting for the 15th time of his illustrious career.

“I’m always smiley-faced,” said Pacquiao, a senator in his native Philippines. “I’ve been in this sport more than three decades. I will prove (to be better).”

Thurman, 30, has flaunted unmitigated bravado throughout the promotion, insisting that he plans on prompting Pacquiao’s retirement with a victory — and poking fun at his “(Tyrannosaurus rex) arms.” The Clearwater, Florida, native also said Wednesday that he withdrew an undisclosed amount of money and plans to bet on himself to win the fight.

By knockout.

In the first, second or seventh rounds.

“We haven’t got the ticket yet, because the (odds) are still going to shift,” said Thurman, a plus 140 underdog at the Westgate sportsbook. “I’m an undefeated champion for a reason. … I’m diverse, I’m just well-rounded and I’m ready for anything that Manny Pacquiao is ready to throw at me.”

Pacquiao was at ease for the second straight day, comfortable with the spotlight that accompanies a distinguished fight card in Las Vegas. He wants to prove that he’s still one of the world’s best welterweights — even at age 40.

“It’s going to be an exciting fight, a once in a lifetime fight with more action,” said Pacquiao, a minus 160 favorite at the Westgate. “We did our best in training. We are really in 100 percent condition — physically, mentally and, most of all, spiritually. I’m sure my opponent worked hard and trained hard. I’m expecting a good fight.”

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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