MANNY PACQUIAO put in a throwback performance to edge out Keith Thurman for the WBA welterweight world title in Las Vegas.
Dressed in the same red Cleto Reyes gloves and white shorts worn when PacMan dismantled Ricky Hatton and Antonio Margarito ten years ago – the 40-year-old really turned back the clock in Las Vegas.
Flooring Thurman in round one with a right hook as his American opponent tracked back, Pacquiao was made to work throughout, eventually stealing a split-decision win.
After the fight, the new WBA welterweight champion said: “It was fun. I'm getting hard it's not easy opponents he's a good fighter, a good boxer, he's strong.
“He did his best, I did my best, we made the people happy.
“I really love the fans thank you so much for coming here and witnessing the fight, I'm sure you're happy tonight, you saw a great fight.
“I am just blessed tonight.”
Thurman, who bet three times on himself before the fight – to win in round one, two or seven – made a bright start to the opening stanza.
But the champion 11 years Pacquiao’s senior was made to look like a novice as he moved back with his hands down, only to be outfoxed by PacMan who decked the champion with a swift right-hook.
The Filipino senator then took control between rounds two and four, backing up his man to the ropes and unleashing blistering combinations, in vintage style.
Pacquiao’s trademark footwork was the difference in the early stages, as he hoped in and out of punching range, though Thurman, bleeding from the nose, soon began to use his size advantage.
Between the mid rounds the American began to find home with his right hand and caused Pacquiao to halt when the left-hook followed.
In round nine, sensing his early work was beginning to be overwritten, Pacquiao stepped up his product and began pinging out the southpaw jab right the left hook busting Thurman’s nose.
For the first time since the opening round Thurman was hurt by a shot, as right hook to the
body caused the champion to wince in pain during round 10.
Tottering back the champion managed to remain upright, though he spat out his gum shield in a desperate bid to gasp air as the pendulum swang back in PacMan’s favour.
Veteran Pacquiao went straight back to the body of Thurman in round 11, who was still hurt from the previous session and unable to keep up with the pace until the end of the stanza.
A huge right hand from the champion had PacMan’s head rocking back, as judges began to sweat over the back and forth, too close to call action.
Pacquiao, possibly under the instructions of legendary trainer Freddie Roach – who lumped £5,000 on his man to win – boxed cautiously in the 12th and final round.
Fearing his unbeaten record was about to shatter, Thurman forced the action landing with a big looping right hand.
PacMan, who returned to the US this year beating Adrien Broner, did not leave his fans disappointed as he traded with his younger opponent down the stretch, as the fight went the distance.