A major boxing welterweight title bout is in the works for the summer.
WBA champion Keith Thurman (29-0-1 NC, 22 KOs) is expected to defend his title against the legendary Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) in July, per Ring Magazine’s Mike Coppinger. The two targeted dates are July 13th and July 20th, with a location TBD. It would headline a Premier Boxing Champions pay-per-view, whether through a FOX or Showtime production.
This past January, Thurman returned from nearly two years away from the sport due to injuries and defended his belt against Josesito Lopez. In what was supposed to be a tune-up fight, Thurman found himself in tough with Lopez, even getting hurt on multiple occasions but ultimately prevailing by majority decision. Thurman did score a knockdown of Lopez, whereas Lopez was unable to put Thurman down. Keith’s inactivity led to him vacating his WBC belt that he won from Danny Garcia in 2017.
Pacquiao is one of the all-time greats of boxing, having won major world titles in eight weight divisions. He currently holds the WBA’s “regular” title, which means pretty much nothing for those unaware of what a ridiculous sanctioning body the WBA is. After a controversial decision loss to Jeff Horn, Pacquiao ditched long-time promoter Top Rank Boxing to run his own MP Promotions. The 40-year-old Filipino icon TKO’d Lucas Matthysse last year in Malaysia, then signed with Al Haymon and Premier Boxing Champions. In his PBC debut in January, he easily dispatched Adrien Broner in the eyes of everyone except Broner, with pay-per-view numbers tracking at around 400,000 buys.
Given how vulnerable Thurman looked and the fact that Pacquiao still very much has something left in the tank, this is a genuinely compelling fight that figures to sell well on pay-per-view. Meanwhile, it’s expected that IBF champion Errol Spence Jr will unify titles with WBC king Shawn Porter in the fall. Perhaps it’s possible the winner of Pacquiao-Thurman and Spence-Porter will face each other late 2019 or early 2020.