Manny Pacquiao vs Keith Thurman Betting Preview

Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman Holding Their Championship Belts - WBA Logo

The Pride of the Philippines, Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao isn’t getting any younger.

It doesn’t appear, though, that he is getting any older either.

After thoroughly dominating the brash Adrian Broner in his last fight, he is making a significant step up in competition this time around.

AB has always had the speed and power to defeat just about anyone in his weight class.

It’s the mental side of things, which sets his colleagues apart from him when it counts.

Some fighters and coaches have gone as far to as say that fighting is 90% mental. Who am I to tell them any different?

I would say it’s definitely more than 50, and we’ll leave it at that.

Manny could be making a run at Floyd Mayweather Jr in hopes to drag him out of retirement for one more massive payday for both men.

Is Keith Thurman just a pawn in all of this?

Hmm…

The Welterweight division is absolutely stacked at the top and if there is going to be a linear champion in the near future, he is for sure going to be a bad man.

Shawn Porter is up there but you have to remember that Keith Thurman defeated him just over three years ago in a great fight that saw both men hurt and the judges giving Keith 7 rounds out of the 12.

That was easily the biggest win of his career. He followed that up with a W against Danny Garcia who was also undefeated at the time.

It was a split decision but people felt that was mainly due to Thurman putting it on cruise control in the championship rounds.

Keith Thurman was then on top of the world. Now, “only” Errol Spence Jr and Bud Crawford stood in his way of becoming undefeated undisputed linear champ.

While those two are probably the best two guys in the division, the gatekeepers were definitely out of the way and he was knocking on the door.

At this point, he took some time off for elbow and hand injuries and 6 months to a year turned into two years.

People weren’t sure if maybe he had made too much money or what.

In his return fight, he took on Josesito Lopez but did not look good at all including having his head snapped up into the air. He won a majority decision, but whew.

If he would have looked better in that fight, I don’t think Manny’s people would have come calling but he didn’t, they did, and here we are.

BetOnline has the odds for us here.

Let’s break down the lines, the movement of those lines, what the future has to hold for each, and make our picks to win.

Complete 180

When the betting lines originally were released by the Las Vegas sportsbooks, it was Keith Thurman who was the (-140) favorite and Manny the underdog.

They have since shifted dramatically with loads of money pouring in on the Filipino superstar.

As of right now, the odds are (-162) for Manny and (+142) for the man from Clearwater, Florida.

While this is a dramatic shift, no doubt, it is still virtually a pick’em fight by boxing standards.

I would love to write more boxing picks for you guys. The sweet science is looking more and more interesting with every major fight announcement. Yes, I love MMA and it’s been 75% of my life for the last 15 years but I was a boxing fan first.

Watching guys like Tommy Morrison, Mike Tyson, and Roy Jones Jr as a kid had me jumping on the bed and shadowboxing in the bathroom until my parents yelled at me to go to sleep.

“It’s Tuesday night, boy!”

Sorry, nostalgia took over there for a minute. The point I was trying to make is that the betting lines for boxing matches can be outright ridiculous. In MMA, you might see a 5 to 1 favorite every couple of months or so but in boxing, it’s easily every week.

Just this weekend, there are four fights where the favorite is (-1600) or more.

I know they do things a little different with the tune-up fights and all, but that’s where the UFC has them out-gunned in the competitive/unpredictable excitement arena.

Okay, so the lines moved in Manny’s favor.

Why?

Bettors are pointing towards Thurman’s last fight, no doubt, but if that’s the case, then why did the sportsbooks make him the favorite in the first place?

Is either man a pawn?

Do the sharps (professional bettors) want Thurman as an underdog so they can cash in with low risk?

So many questions…

If Thurman beats Manny convincingly:

he puts himself right back up there with Spence and Crawford. He would probably fight the winner and it would get a ton of hype.

I think he would lose to either man but that’s neither here nor there.

If Manny wins convincingly:

The rematch with Floyd “Money” Mayweather is a possibility. If I were Floyd, though, I would just wait on Conor McGregor again or just chill because he has nothing to win by fighting Pacquaio again other than well, lots of cash.

The fight this Saturday, though, is a stellar matchup and could play out several different ways if it were to happen 10 times.

That, of course, means the “value” is now on Keith Thurman.

You guys want to know who’s going to win. I get it.

Let’s get technical and see if we can make a more educated guess.

Catch ‘em Coming or Catch ‘em Going

This fight isn’t a true bull versus matador scenario because said matador “Thurman” has slower feet and is easily the bigger man.

In all likelihood, though, “One Time” will be on his back foot more than Manny Pacquiao.

We know Pac Man loves to literally jump into range to make up for the fact that he doesn’t have the longest arms. Over the course of his career, to his credit, Manny has gone up in weight to get bigger fights as well as challenge himself.

That usually means he competes with a reach disadvantage.

At 40-years-old, though, can he still hop in with the same amount of speed and explosiveness as he did in his younger days?

Without the help of PED’s and assuming he wasn’t on them as a younger man, the answer is no. There aren’t any Olympic sprinters competing for gold at 40 years of age.

Am I saying he’s on the sauce? No.

But what about the Broner fight? AB is young with incredible hand speed.

Why didn’t he catch Manny with counter right hands and check hooks?

I don’t think he wanted it bad enough. He was in there to survive more than he was trying to win. It’s that simple.

Keith Thurman is a dog, and I believe he won’t be afraid to bite down on his mouthpiece, plant his feet and catch Manny coming in.

Whether he will be successful in doing so is, of course, yet to be seen but most experts believe the willingness is there.

Please Note:

Manny’s strategy to win may not be to land that initial shot when he bursts in. Pacquiao and his famed coach, Freddie Roach, both likely understand his limitations and more importantly the power possessed by “One Time” Thurman.

The key will be playing off of that initial reaction. Pacquiao loves to feint. If he can get a significant reaction from Keith on just a feint, it’s probably going to be a long night for Thurman.

I don’t believe that will be the case, though, as “One Time” will have a 3-inch reach advantage.

Manny will have to use the feint in an indirect defensive manner to see if Thurman is looking for the initial counter of either check hook, right hand or maybe even the uppercut.

If Thurman chooses to move directly backward as he did against Josesito Lopez, Manny will try to cover the distance and catch him going with a blitz. If that movement puts Keith on the ropes, he has no choice but to cover up, and we have seen Manny thrive throughout his career with barrages when his opponents are forced to cover.

Pick(s)

Most experts are saying that it will either be a Manny win by decision or Thurman by TKO.

That makes me lean towards Thurman by decision.

Luckily, we have the betting options to make more than one pick here because it really is a close fight on paper and likely will play out similarly in the ring Saturday night.

The odds on the fight going to the judges’ scorecards is (-300) right now. That tells me it probably will.

That’s quite the investment, though, on such an unpredictable fight with so many variables.

Let’s make a few picks.

First, it could very well be a draw. This would make a rematch even more exciting as well as pave the way for both guys to get their desired respective matchups in the near future.

A draw isn’t likely, but we have seen it happen more and more lately in boxing super fights and the odds aren’t as big on this bout being a draw as they normally are.

Bet 31.25 to make 500.00

My Pick
DRAW

I like the Thurman by decision option as well but it doesn’t hold that much weight in numbers over just a victory. It is being ignored by many, though. The man isn’t the most technical fighter we have ever seen but neither is Pacquiao. The judges in Nevada are as knowledgeable, albeit corrupt, as any in the world so they know that if a boxer catches his opponent on the way in with a punch, it should be scored much higher.

Manny will have to rely on volume and to get that noise turned up, he will first have to get his hands on that knob. That will require him to likely eat one shot, something he hasn’t been afraid to do in the past but a fighter’s chin tends to decline around his age.

Just sayin’.

We have already seen him slept hard and faceplanted before against Marquez.

Bet 70.50 to make 100

My Pick
THURMAN TO WIN

The odds here are just too tasty to ignore. Just in the time I’ve been writing this article, the betting lines have shifted in favor of Pacquiao even more.

Any man who has been put to sleep is that much more likely to be put to sleep again. Every year past say…37 or 38-years-old, the likelihood of said fighter meeting the same fate increases once again.

Bet 28.75 to win to make 158.13

My Pick
THURMAN BY FINISH

In Conclusion

There you go, guys. This wasn’t an easy article to write.

I’ve always been a huge fan of Manny Pacquiao and I saw some of Keith’s amateur fights when I lived in down in St. Pete, Florida. Winky Wright was from Pinellas Park just down the street from me and was a big star at the time.

It also wasn’t easy seeing how much the line moved. Could the public be that spot on?

Does everyone out there know something I don’t?

The sharps will make their bets after the weigh-ins. I think the lines will make a move back towards the center when that happens.

Much of the public is going to see the size differential as well and that may change a few minds.

I said a lot and I hope I didn’t confuse anyone. This is a close fight.

Thurman’s heart has been tested before and he has shown that he has “it”.

Manny hasn’t proven, though, that his 40-year-old chin can withstand a clean shot from the bigger, stronger, more athletic (at this point) fighter.

Let’s make some money, Keith.

At least this “One Time”!

Mike Pruitt / author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.