Andre Ward talks Pacquio vs. Thurman; says Thurman has “a lot to prove”

Andre ‘SOG’ Ward says Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman has “a lot to prove” in his fight against Manny Pacquiao this summer on July 20 due to the perception out there from fans that he’s ducking Errol Spence Jr. in addition to his poor performance in his last fight against Josesito Lopez.

Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs) campaigned hard to get the fight with 40-year-old Pacquiao, and he’s finally got it but there’s a lot of questions being asked whether he’s the same fighter he once was. Injuries and inactivity have taken their toll on Thurman’s career, leaving him looking little better than fringe contender Josesito Lopez, who he barely beat last January.

“That’s a great fight. You’ve got an older Pacquiao, who is going to be there a little bit more than he normally is,” Ward said to Fighthype in analyzing the Pacquiao vs. Thurman fight. “He’s got a Thurman with a lot to prove. He got a lot of people speaking down on him, saying he’s ‘ducking [Errol] Spence.’ I’m not going to get involved whether he’s ducking or not, but a lot of people are saying [that],” Ward said.

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The former eight division world champion Pacquiao is still a good mover, and he has better than average hand speed. Pacquiao’s power remains the same. The only things he’s lost is some of his speed and movement. The major thing that Thurman has to be concerned with is the power of Pacquiao. Thurman’s punch resistance has never been good to begin with, but it certainly hasn’t gotten better with his 2 years out of the ring from 2017 to 2019.

Thurman was injured during his time off with an elbow and hand injury, although some boxing fans believed that he milked the injury so that he could enjoy his life. That’s fine, but the problem was that there were contenders that had two wait two years to get a title shot. The World Boxing Association let Thurman sit on their title for two years without stripping him, which is kind of strange. Imagine an NFL team being able to sit on their Super Bowl status for two years without playing and being able to keep that status. Boxing obviously has a lot ways to go before it’s run like the NFL.

“He didn’t really look good in his last fight,” said Ward about Thurman in his comeback fight against Josesito Lopez last January. “He’s got a lot to fight for, and beating Manny Pacquiao, that’s like winning four or five regular fights just from that win right there, having that name on your resume,” Ward said.

In the old days, beating Pacquiao would be like winning four or five fights, but not now. Thurman – or any fighter – isn’t going to be transformed into the greatest just because they beat a 40-year-old Pacquiao. The boxing public aren’t naive. They know Pacquiao isn’t the same fighter he once was. As such, a win for Thurman won’t elevate him to the position where he’s seen as the #1 welterweight. Thurman likes to say he as viewed as the top welterweight two years ago, but that wasn’t the case. Thurman wasn’t showing interest in fighting Spence in 2017, just as he’s not showing interest in fighting him now. The only thing that Thurman proved back in 2017 was he was better than Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia. Thurman barely beat both of them.

“I’m trying to see any of them mix it up,” Ward said about the top welterweights fighting each other. “I’m not picky. There’s a lot of great guys at 147. So, I get the timing thing. Guys are trying to position themselves financially. Do that, but at some point in time, you’ve got to mix it up. Straight up,” said Ward about the elite level welterweights, who have seemingly been dodging each other.

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