Pacquiao vs Thurman: The vicious body shot - and Manny's mistake
After landing what was perhaps one of the most pulverizing body shots in his pro career, Manny Pacquiao made a classic mistake.
Let's go back to Round 10 of Pacquiao vs Keith Thurman. The latter was closing the gap and had reeled off three consecutive winning rounds.
Thurman, who was floored in the opening stanza and appeared to have dropped at least 5 of the first 6 rounds, had gained the momentum.
Now, it was Thurman who was the aggressor. It was Thurman landing the cleaner, harder, more effective punches. And it was Manny who was in retreat.
We'd seen Keith Thurman in this mode before in years prior. He'd start slow and fall behind before making the proper adjustments en route to producing a knockout.
Looking to close the deal on the 40 year old legend, Thurman came out of the corner roaring in Round 10.
But Manny, having lost a string of rounds, was reluctant to allow Keith to win yet another. Pacquiao began to unleash shots with bad intentions. He dug to the body, subtly jolting his foe and hindering Thurman's movement.
... Those body shots would serve notice of what would come later.
About midway through the round, an onrushing Pacquiao landed a sick left hook to the body, right on the liver. Thurman's legs crumbled as the WBA Champ momentarily found himself in a sitting position but was able keep his his rear from touching the canvas.
It was an awkward moment as both fighters came to a standstill. A wilted Thurman looked at Pacquiao who'd stopped punching.
Big mistake, Manny.
The referee hadn't halted the action so Pacquiao should have immediately pounced on his hurt foe instead of starring at him. Although Manny is a gentleman and waited for Thurman to regroup (perhaps unsure of why Keith had paused), this is boxing and there's no shame in attacking a compromised opponent.
In fact, that's what fighters do.
Rule 1 in boxing: Protect yourself at all times.
Pacquiao eventually smothered Thurman but those few precious moments of inaction allowed Keith, who has always demonstrated fine recuperative powers, to regain a bit of himself, get on his bicycle and survive the round.
Manny would go on to win a tight split decision but his unnecessary hesitation at such a vital moment could have cost him the fight. After all, a still-dangerous Thurman would win Round 11 on all three cards, and a Thurman knockdown in that stanza or the last would have made the fight a draw.
“But, you know, I definitely was obviously hurt in that round," said Thurman after the fight.
“It was a good body shot. It reminded me of the Luis Collazo [body shot]. It was slightly under the solarplex. It was slightly under the rib. And it probably caught me in a breathing moment. You know, I just wanted to recover from it."
At this level, knockout opportunities are rare. When a fighter has a compromised opponent in front of him, he must immediately seize the initiative.
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