Last Updated: 2019-07-11
Keith Thurman is supposed to be catching Manny Pacquiao at the right time, not the other way around.
Thurman is also supposed to be the betting favorite when the two welterweight stars fight in Las Vegas on July 20, not the other way around.
As they often do when there’s about to be a major fight, things can start to make less and less sense as the big night approaches. People often exchange their minds for their hearts when laying down their cash, and that appears to be happening here and is reflected in the current odds.
Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs), correctly so, opened and remained a slight favorite over Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) for most of the build up to the fight. He was -130, or thereabout, in most shops until what must have been a flood of Pacquiao money came in over Fourth of July weekend. Things have reversed and now Pacquiao is now a -150 favorite with Thurman a +120 underdog.
Boxing betting history is littered with emotional line moves when big names were involved in a huge fight. Conor McGregor took considerable money when he faced Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2017. Gerry Cooney was a substantial underdog to Larry Holmes in 1982 before an avalanche of money came in on him the week of the fight. Heck, even when Muhammad Ali was clearly washed up, he was hammered at the windows before his fight with Holmes in 1980.
What else do all these fights have in common? They all ended badly for the guy who bettors flocked to. Nobody is comparing Pacquiao-Thurman to those bouts in terms of magnitude. This is a very big fight, but it’s not an event. Still, Pacquiao is one of the biggest names of his generation and that’s more than enough to open the door to an odds swing of this caliber.
But is it warranted?
Unless there’s an undisclosed injury to Thurman, or word has gotten out that somebody is getting more than his proper nutrition, this move simply does not make sense. If it truly is because of the adoration of one of the fighters and the perceived damaged goods effect of his opponent, then that’s one thing. But if this is simply heavy action on the more popular guy, then we are obligated to step in with our wallets.
The memory of Pacquiao getting violently knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in their 2012 battle has seemingly slipped the minds of many. It was on that night that the boxing world, justifiably so, came to the conclusion that a once-great champion was on the down slope of his career. After all, it was Pacquiao’s second straight loss.
Since then, Pacquiao’s rebirth has consisted of carefully chosen opponents who simply did not have the knockout power to severely threaten the Filipino’s questionable chin and shoddy defense. Mayweather was the most dangerous opponent he faced in the nine-fight stretch since the Marquez loss and we all know Floyd is plenty happy to dance his way to victory. And that’s exactly what he did when Pacquiao provided an all-too welcoming style that night.
When Pacquiao did get in against somebody younger and with legitimate power, he got bloodied up in a controversial decision loss to Australian fighter Jeff Horn. Now, Pacquiao is facing one of the best opponents of his career.
Thurman is the leader of a fantastic welterweight division, but he’s fallen out of favor with the masses because of injury induced breaks away from the ring and one uninspiring win over Josesito Lopez earlier this year in his comeback fight.
That’s all it took to get everyone off one of the better fighters of this generation. Is Thurman 100 percent? It’s hard to say for sure. He’s had elbow surgery and a hand bruise to deal with in the time following his outstanding wins over Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia, who were both in their primes when Thurman beat them.
All signs are that Thurman has worked to correct the cardio issues he seemingly had against Lopez. He’s also increased the strength training part of his regiment. At age 30, versus an opponent who is 40, we expect Thurman to be the much fighter on many levels.
Pacquiao never had much of a defense. His shortcomings in that department were camouflaged by his high-pressure offense. But he has become much more easier to hit and much easier to counter in his recent fights. This is something Thurman can and likely will take full advantage of.
This fight feels like a situation where fans and bettors alike are being lulled into thinking this is the same old Manny. And his opponent’s inactivity combined with the last memory he put in people’s heads have opened the door for what we think is a misperception of reality.
At a plus price, we will gladly take our chances with Thurman. If you decide to ride along, it might be best to deploy half your bet now, then wait and see if the line goes even higher close to fight time before allocating the rest.
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