LAS VEGAS — Welterweight world titlist Keith Thurman showed off his confidence on Wednesday during the final pre-fight news conference inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena ahead of his showdown with legend Manny Pacquiao.
Thurman said he will lay down bets on himself at the MGM sports book to score a knockout in the first round, the second round and what he called “the lucky seventh round” when he meets secondary titlist Pacquiao in the same arena in one of the year’s biggest fights on Saturday (Fox PPV, 9 p.m. ET).
“I’m a winner in life so to bet on myself in the opening round it makes me swing, swing, swing,” Thurman said with Pacquiao seated just a few away from him. “You have to swing to hit a home run. You can’t just sit there and pump fake all day. So I want to encourage myself.
“In boxing we really don’t have a knockout bonus. If ‘One Time’ Thurman gets a first-round knockout somebody’s got to pay me. So at least the MGM Grand can pay me. (Making the bets is) fun, it’s playful, but it’s a little bit part of my strategy. I don’t recommend it for every fighter but I like it. Don’t be surprised if Manny Pacquiao goes night, night.”
Thurman said after the formal news conference that he would wait until closer to the fight to make his wager because he feels the odds will grow wider. On Wednesday night, the MGM Grand sports book odds for Thurman by first- or second-round knockout were 60-to-1 and 40-to-1 for a seventh-round knockout.
“We went to the bank today. We got the money ready,” he said.
Pacquiao laughed during Thurman’s comments, not one to take any trash talk too seriously. Thurman has dished out amusing takes throughout the promotion, such as describing the smaller Pacquiao as having “T-Rex arms” and describing his in-and-out style as “hopping like a bunny.”
Pacquiao, while not angered by the talk by any stretch, said that the talk has nonetheless helped motivate him.
“Nothing is personal. I am here to do my job,” said Pacquiao, the only boxer to win world titles in eight weight classes. “In your job as a fighter you have to prove something. That’s why I’m so motivated for this fight and excited for Saturday. There’s a question mark of if I can still do it at the age of 40.”
Pacquiao, a senator in the Philippines fighting during the body’s summer recess, will be facing his most formidable opponent since losing a decision in a welterweight unification to Floyd Mayweather in their record-setting and long-awaited mega fight in 2015.
While Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs), 30, of Clearwater, Florida, paid tribute to Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) and all of his enormous accomplishments during his 24-year career, he kept up the amusing verbal attack.
“Manny Pacquiao is tremendous, he’s a legend,” said Thurman, who will be making his sixth title defense in by far the biggest fight of his career. “He’s accomplished so many great things in the sport. Most boxers, if they accomplish half the things Manny Pacquiao has accomplished they still have a successful career. But I’m not here to hug Manny Pacquiao. I’m not here to pat him on the back.
“I’m here to fight him so [the talk] just puts me in fight mode and lets him know he ain’t gonna do nothing. He has little T-Rex arms and he’s gonna get beat up. I get to punch a senator in the face. He’s gonna feel it and if he’s upset about it he can do something about it Saturday night. It’s called swing, swing, swing, baby.”
Pacquiao cracked a smile and rolled his eyes.
“Always a smiley face, no matter what Keith says,” Pacquiao said. “It’s easy to say things, but it’s not easy to do it in the ring. You know me. I’ve been in this sport a long time. Let him prove it.”