Why Manny Pacquiao is an Underdog in the Keith Thurman Fight

By Loot, Boxing Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

There was a time not long ago when betting on Manny Pacquiao meant laying long odds and putting up big bucks to win a mere fraction of that. With some losses and age, it seems we have come full-circle, to the point where we might be getting some standout value by betting on Manny Pacquiao. As of press time, Keith Thurman is a -145 favorite to beat Pacquiao when the two fight on July 20, with Pac Man being a +125 underdog. It’s not a big dog, but it’s still a good price on one of the biggest talents to ever grace the ring.

Personally, I find it to be a fair-enough price to take a whirl on the Filipino great. I think he matches up well with the unbeaten Thurman. I feel some of the criticism levied on Pacquiao also applies to the younger man. While being ten years younger, Thurman already appears to be on the final lap of his career. He returned earlier this year to end a 2-year layoff, beating Josesito Lopez, but only by majority decision. I think this version of Thurman is not the same fighter we saw a few years ago. Manny has a great chance to rejoin the upper-reaches of the talent-rich 147-pound weight class with a good showing on July 20.


I won’t pretend that Manny is any way infallible at this advanced age and with tons of miles on his legs. Still, when thinking about the reasons why he is an underdog, I see some fallacy at play. Let’s take a look at the different factors that went into Pacquiao being an early-underdog in this fight and see how real they really are.

Age and Mileage

Manny is now 40 years of age. And that number has always served as an unofficial benchmark in all sports for when an athlete is officially old. Sure, even in boxing, fighters at 40 and beyond have thrived, but enough haven’t to make it a cause for concern. And for a guy like Manny, a 25-year pro who has fought the best from flyweight to welterweight for two decades, the number carries even more weight. While he has looked good in recent outings and maintained awfully-well, hitting a wall at this level is something people have come to expect to a large degree. You can’t blame anyone for holding this against Pacquiao and if he loses, it’s likely these elements will play a large role.


Fans and bettors alike have been conditioned to see this as a young man’s game. Time and again, that belief is bolstered by results. When looking at this fight, we see one guy we’ve known forever in Pacquiao, a fighter who has tasted defeat a handful of times at the highest levels. In the other corner is a far-younger man. He is undefeated, with enough nuggets on his resume to substantiate him being a top fighter. After all, it has been several years since Manny thrived against the best. And when people see Thurman, they see a fighter who never lost and they just assume that he represents a level of menace in which Pacquiao can no longer cope.

Opponent’s Qualifications

Thurman looks shiny and shimmering with his 29-0 record. A few years ago when he was rolling, he was at the head of a surging 147-pound weight class. While it was somewhat of a close fight, being the first guy to beat a 33-0 Danny Garcia was a big win. And so was beating Shawn Porter—another top welterweight. Those triumphs don’t merely suggest that he do this, they show that he can. In the last several years, he’s the one, not Pacquiao, who has been able to shine against some of the best 147-pounders in the world.

I would point out, however, that Thurman’s best wins were in close fights. He didn’t dominate. And while Garcia and Porter are certainly top fighters, they also aren’t quite the cream-of-the-crop at welterweight, either. And a win over Pacquiao might be his biggest win ever if he can pull it off. After starting off 22-0 with 20 KOs, Thurman has just two stoppage wins in his last seven fights, both the result of corner-retirements. His power hasn’t really carried over as he rose in class.

Static Viewpoints

A few years ago, the view on Pacquiao was that he was near the end, a fighter no longer capable of his old magic. Thurman, meanwhile, was on the rise and ready to make his imprint on the sport and forge a strong legacy. The pricing of this fight suggests that those viewpoints haven’t been altered with the passage of time and different circumstances. Manny has come back fairly strongly and if looking for some solid in-ring work from these two men in the last few years, it is only Pacquiao who has provided it. Thurman, meanwhile, didn’t look like the same fighter in his last fight. A bad right elbow injury led to him taking time off and he didn’t seem as adept at wielding that weapon in January against Lopez.

For Thurman, I think he and his team picked Pacquiao because they see him as the easiest way to make a mark and get in line for the really big fights. Thurman knows the time is limited to make some of that big-time money. His body is already letting him down. He’s not made for this like Pacquiao is. Can anyone picture Thurman at 40 being anywhere near where Manny is now?

Lack of Precedent

It’s hard to not hear some voices in your head when plunking down money on a 40-year old welterweight in a title fight. That voice might be asking you since when did a 40-year old welterweight ever win a big fight? Sure, Floyd Mayweather was 40 when he beat Conor McGregor in a big fight, but McGregor was a debuting boxer, not an unbeaten boxer with championship hardware in his trophy-case like Thurman. The mind struggles to think of an example. Just remember, when talking about Pacquiao, we’re talking about a freak, a superior athlete who has made a career out of doing what has never been done before.

Not Looking at Styles

I’m not sure that the combination of the betting public/oddsmakers is looking at the respective styles of each man closely enough. I think each man’s strengths and weaknesses are just being weighed against each other in a relative sense, when in fact, Pacquiao’s assets just happen to play better off Thurman than what can be said about the contrary.

The only other time Thurman saw anything close to this kind of speed was against Shawn Porter, a man he barely beat. With Manny being a southpaw, will Thurman be confident in that right hand? Will the right hand be up to speed? It’s going to need to be especially against a lefty. Has Thurman’s inactivity taken away his edge? Is he in enough of a groove to deal with Pacquiao’s speed, use of angles, and mastery of distance?

Final Thoughts

I’m not sure I would have liked this fight for Pacquiao three years ago. But I think more has changed in that time-span than what is being indicated by the Pacquiao-Thurman betting odds. This version of Thurman still has a lot to prove. When you’d expect the opposite to occur, it is actually Pacquiao who has found a second-wind, while Thurman may be the one who hit a wall. Again, betting on a 40-year old with untold mileage on his tires can sometimes backfire, but I see Pacquiao getting some solid value in this battle. Did you know… that you could be wagering on the Pacquiao vs. Thurman fight at discounted odds? There’s a better than good chance that you’re laying inflated odds with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to BetAnySports Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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