Manny Pacquiao knocked down Keith Thurman in the first round of their welterweight fight and persevered for a split-decision victory Saturday night in Las Vegas, adding a third straight win to his career resurgence after turning 40 years old.
Pacquiao (62-7-2) dropped his previously unbeaten opponent with a combination late in the first round, and he dominated the opening rounds with a combination of flair and power that recalled the incredible prime of the only eight-division champion in boxing history.
Thurman (29-1), who lost the WBA 147-pound title that he had held for six years, showed remarkable tenacity in rallying through the middle rounds, repeatedly testing Pacquiao’s chin with big shots.
“It was fun,” Pacquiao said. “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 Glenn Feldman scored it 114-113 for Thurman. The Associated Press also scored it 115-112 for Pacquiao.
The fighters started quickly with a series of good-looking exchanges, but Pacquiao changed the bout in an instant. He moved forward to land a left to the body and a right hook that sent Thurman to the canvas with 25 seconds left in the first round.
Thurman got up comfortably while the crowd roared, but Pacquiao kept up his superior work for the next two rounds, repeatedly rocking Thurman with a variety of shots. Even when Thurman put together a solid fifth round, he was stunned several times in the final minute and left with blood on his face.
But Thurman gathered himself and soundly beat Pacquiao through the middle rounds, forcing Pacquiao to show off his durable chin. Pacquiao reversed the momentum in the 10th with a series of big shots, including a punch to the body that sent Thurman stumbling away in obvious pain.
Both fighters pushed to the final bell and embraced.
“I knew it was close,” Thurman said. “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.”
Thurman called for a rematch, and the crowd vocally approved.
Boxer has brain injury: Russian super lightweight Maxim Dadashev had surgery at a Maryland hospital for swelling on his brain after collapsing outside the ring after losing a match Friday in Oxon Hill, Md.
Doctors told reporters early Saturday morning that Dadashev had surgery in a procedure that took about two hours. He had collapsed after a loss to undefeated Subriel Matias in their 140-pound bout shortly after trainer James McGirt stopped the fight before the 12th-round bell.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Pacquaio-takes-titlein-split-decision-14111497.php.