LAS VEGAS — Manny Pacquiao knocked down Keith Thurman in the first round and persevered for an exciting split-decision victory Saturday night, adding a third straight win to his career resurgence after turning 40 years old.
Pacquiao dropped his previously unbeaten opponent with a combination late in the first round, and the Pac-Man dominated the opening rounds with a combination of flair and power that recalled the incredible prime of the only eight-division champion in boxing history.
Thurman showed remarkable tenacity in rallying through the middle rounds, repeatedly testing Pacquiao’s chin with big shots.
The eight division champion claimed the WBC super welterweight title.
Two judges scored the bout, 115-112, for Pacquiao, while Glenn Feldman scored it, 114-113, for Thurman. The Associated Press also scored it 115-112 for Pacquiao.
Pacquiao, 40, was the slight betting favorite going into the bout against Thurman who is 30 years old. Pacquiao runs his record to 62-7-2 with 39 knockouts. Thurman saw his record drop to 29-1 with 22 knockouts.
Thurman out-landed Pacquiao in this incredibly close fight by a margin of 210 to 195, according to CompuBox. But Pacquiao had the sold-out crowd on his side throughout as they exploded with cheers each time he connected.
“I really loved the fans. Thank you so much for coming here and witnessing the fight,” Pacquiao said. “I’m sure you were happy tonight because you see a good fight. Even though Thurman lost, he did his best. He’s not an easy opponent. He’s a good boxer, strong. I think I’m just blessed tonight.”
On the undercard: In a welterweight bout, Yordenis Ugas defeated Omar Figueroa via unanimous decision. In another welterweight fight, Sergey Lipinets beat Jayar Inson with a second-round TKO. Luis Nery won the WBC silver bantamweight title with a TKO over Juan Carlos Payano in the ninth round. Caleb Plant retained his IBF super middleweight crown, defeating Mike Lee with a third round TKO. — AP