Manny Pacquiao knocked down Keith Thurman in the first round and went on to win a convincing split-decision victory Saturday night, capturing a WBA welterweight title after a thrilling 12-round slugfest.
The 40-year-old Pacquiao (62-7-2), who also serves as a Senator in his native Philippines and has has been a pro boxer since 1995, dropped the previously unbeaten Thurman with a combination late in the first round, and put on a performance that evoked the ferocious prime of the only eight-division champion in boxing history.
The 30-year-old Thurman (29-1) tested the legendary Pacquiao's chin with big shots as both boxers fought at a furious pace in front of a sellout crowd at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, but in the end, Pac-Man's first-round knockdown made the difference.
“It was fun,” Pacquiao said after the fight. “My opponent is a good fighter and boxer. He was strong...I think he did his best, and I did my best. I think we made the fans happy tonight because it was a good fight.”
Two judges scored the bout 115-112 for Pacquiao, while a third scored it 114-113 for Thurman.
Pacquiao, who already owned one version of the WBA welterweight title, continues his recent comeback after back-to-back wins over Lucas Mattyhysse and Adrien Broner, which came after a controversial decision loss to Jeff Horn in 2017.
"I knew it was close,” Thurman said after the fight. “He had the momentum because he got the knockdown in Round 1…I wish I had a little bit more output to go toe to toe. My conditioning, my output was just behind Manny Pacquiao’s tonight. Tonight was a blessing and a lesson.”
Before the fight, Floyd Mayweather got into the ring and wished both fighters good luck. The retired pound-for-pound superstar watched from the crowd in the same arena where he thoroughly outboxed Pacquiao four years ago in their historic—if ultimately disappointing—superfight.
Meanwhile, Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, has said he hopes Mayweather will come out of retirement for a rematch with Pacquiao, who has said he fought injured in their first bout.
But many boxing observers believe the two most dangerous active welterweights for Pacquiao at this point are Terrence Crawford and Errol Spence, both undefeated fighters who are among the most highly-skilled in the sport.
Here, some of the best Twitter reactions to the fight, from Sly Stallone to Stephen A. Smith: