LOS ANGELES – For weeks, Manny Pacquiao has endured Keith Thurman’s trash talking.
He has personally heard Thurman vowing to send him into retirement, the way Pacquiao did to Oscar De La Hoya more than a decade ago.
The brash 30-year-old fighter even mocked Pacquiao for having a short reach, comparing the latter’s arms to that of a tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur.
Thurman, the WBA “super” welterweight champion, dished out perhaps the harshest verbal jab when he threatened to “crucify” Pacquiao — an obvious dig at the Filipino icon’s deep faith.
Pacquiao usually does not succumb to an opponent’s pre-fight tirades, always preferring to let his fists do the talking.
But he has made it clear that he treats Thurman’s trash talking as a key motivation for winning next Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (Sunday Manila time).
“Madaldal talaga (Thurman is really talkative),” Pacquiao told Filipino reporters after training at the Wild Card Gym here Thursday (Friday in Manila).
Thurman’s antics have pushed Pacquiao to train extra hard. On Thursday, he went eight rounds against two sparring partners, then immediately worked the mitts with head trainer Buboy Fernandez, as if the action-filled sparring sessions were not physically taxing at all.
Pacquiao then hinted that Thurman will be up for a surprise come fight night.
“Kung magsalita siya akala niya bagito ang kalaban niya (The way he brags, it’s like he’s fighting a newbie),” he said.
Thurman’s strong words definitely had an effect on Pacquiao. Whether they will work to each fighter’s advantage or disadvantage remains to be seen.
During a recent international media conference call from his camp in Clearwater, Florida, Thurman toned down on his talking but remained oozing with confidence.
“I'm going to do to him what I did to Danny Garcia. I'm going to hit him as soon as I can hit him,” said Thurman.
“When Keith Thurman fights Manny Pacquiao, if Keith Thurman fights Errol Spence Jr., if Keith Thurman fights Terrence Crawford, I think Keith Thurman is the new Manny Pacquiao. I think I am the most exciting fighter in the welterweight division today,” he added.
Pacquiao is just raring to find out if Thurman’s fists are as good as his loud mouth.