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  Not So Fast Retirement Home!
Pacquiao Beats Thurman & Wins The Title


By Dave Wilcox
Photos: Cantinflas
 

Las Vegas - A raucous sellout crowd of 14,356 filled the MGM Grand Garden Arena to its brim on Saturday night as Keith “One Time” Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) was set to defend his WBA Super Welterweight belt against the living legend, Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs).

When the fighters made their way to the ring, the crowd noise hit a fever pitch that was almost deafening. The pro-Pacquiao crowd let it be known to all in attendance who had the real home field advantage on this night. The chants of “Manny, Manny, Manny” went on, up until the National Anthems of both the United States and the Philippines.

There were many questions to be answered by both men going into this fight and once referee; Kenny Bayless finished his instructions at center ring, now it was now time for some answers.

The bell sounded for the first round to begin and off we went. The round began quite ordinary as Pacquiao bounced and dodged and Thurman boxed and looked for his openings. Then out of nowhere, Manny Pacquiao hit pay dirt with a right hand that put “One-Time” on the canvas. Thurman got up and appeared to be ok, but the damage was done and the tone of the fight was set.
 

In the second and third round Manny really took charge and Thurman was having a difficult time dealing with the speed and awkwardness of Pacquiao.

Rounds four and five found Thurman looking more comfortable and finding a slight groove, but just as it seemed Thurman was on to something, Manny would come back with flurries to immediately steel back the momentum.

It appeared a one sided fight was inevitable, but Thurman showed his championship heart made it a fight as we went through the middle rounds. By round nine, the cards were getting closer and the outcome was inevitable no more.

The championship rounds were upon us and Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman went to work.

In the tenth round, a left hook to the body of Thurman visibly slowed him down and he went into defensive mode.

The final two rounds were close but Manny Pacquiao appeared to have a decision victory wrapped up by sweeping the last three rounds on this writer’s card.

And then they went to the Judges…………….

Judge Glenn Feldman surprisingly scored the fight 114-113 in favor of Keith Thurman, while both Judges Dave Moretti and Tim Cheathan had it scored 115-112 in the favor of the winner and new WBA Super Welterweight champion, Manny Pacquiao.

This writer had it scored 117-110 in favor of Pacquiao
 

The forty year old Pacquiao turned back the clock yet again in Las Vegas and in the post-fight interview, he looked to the future.

"It was fun. My opponent is a good fighter and boxer. He was strong.”

“I think (I will fight) next year. I will go back to the Philippines and work and then make a decision.”

For Keith Thurman it was back to the drawing board.

"I knew it was too close. He got the knockdown so he had momentum in round one.”

“I wish I had a little bit more output to go toe to toe. I felt like he was getting a little bit tired, but he did have experience in the ring. My conditioning and my output was just behind Manny Pacquiao’s. I would love the rematch.”

“You get blessings and lessons. Tonight was a blessing and a lesson. Thank you everybody, and thank you Manny Pacquiao.”

In the end, the fight was better than expected and a win for the sport of Boxing.

In what the WBC referred to as their Welterweight title eliminator, Cuban, Yordenis Ugas (24-4,11KOs) squared off against the previously undefeated lightweight champ, Omar Figueroa, Jr. (28-1-1, 19KOs) in a bout scheduled for 12 rounds.

I, on the other hand will refer to this fight as fifty minutes my life that I will never get back.

The first round started promising as Ugas landed a right hand to the head of Figueroa that sent him staggering back to the ropes. After that, any promise of a good fight was thrown out the window.

Figueroa didn’t seem right from the start, and from the second round on, the fight became unwatchable. Ugas was slapping and hugging and Omar was clinching. There were warnings for holding, head butts, low blows, hitting after the bell and pushing.

It was an ugly affair for the rest of the way.

Although the fight was significantly below average, Ugas did do all the landing of punches in between the tangos and you would be hard pressed to find any rounds to give to Omar Figueroa, Jr.

After 12 rounds, all three Judges, Eric Cheek, Julie Lederman and Steve Weisfeld had identical scores of 119-107 in favor of Yordenis Ugas.

Welterweight John Molina, Jr. was set to face once beaten Sergey Lipinets (16-1, 12 KOs) of Kazakhstan in a 10 round affair, until a last minute back injury sidelined the always exciting Molina.

Javar Inson of the Philippines’ (18-3, 12KOs) was more than happy to step in against the tough Lipinets.

About five minutes later, he might have felt differently. In the second round, the Southpaw Inson missed with a right hook and Lipinets immediately greeted the late substitute’s chin with a huge left hook of his own and down went Inson.

Referee Jay Nady immediately waved off the bout at :57 of the second round and Sergey Lipinets was declared the winner by TKO.

The opening bout of the PPV telecast was for something called the WBC Silver Bantamweight Championship and was scheduled 12 rounds.

Tough veteran, Juan Carlos “Baby Pacquiao” Payano (21-3, 9KOs) from the Dominican Republic was set to square off against unbeaten, Luis Nery (30-0, 24 KOs)of Tijuana, Mexico.

In the early going, the cagey Dominican was a tough riddle to solve for Nery, but by the sixth round, Payano was visibly slowing down and Nery appeared to be growing stronger.

Then in round nine, a wicked left hook from Nery to the body of Payano was followed up with a left hook to the head and just like that, Payano’s night was over. Luis Nery was declared the winner by KO when Referee, Vic Drakulich called the action to a halt at 1:43 of round 9.

FOX TV CARD


The IBF Super Middleweight World Championship was on the line as budding Superstar, Caleb Plant of Nashville, TN (19-0, 11 KOs) squared off against the previously unbeaten, Mike Lee of Downers Grove, Illinois (21-1, 11 KOs).

We found out quickly as the first round started that Mr. Lee’s unbeaten record just possibly might have been a bit deceiving. Caleb Plant is classes above Lee and this mismatch didn’t last long.

In the third round, a nice three punch combination put Lee down. Lee did get up but was soon treated to a left hook that put him down yet again. Referee, Robert Byrd quickly stepped in and called a halt to the bout at 1:59 of the third round.

The talk from both men leading up to the fight was more competitive than the fight itself and both men spoke on it after the fight.

“It went exactly how I planned it would go. Absolutely. I’ve been telling you all week it wasn’t going to go 12 rounds and I stuck to my word and I tried to do that. I hope you guys had a good time”, said Caleb Plant.

“I tip my hat to Mike (Lee) because it takes a true champion to step between these ropes. But it’s ‘And Still’ just like I predicted.”

Mike Lee had no excuses to give.

"The speed was the difference, he's fast and very accurate."

"No issue with the stoppage, that's the referee's job and I respect it."

As for Caleb Plant, unification is in his sights.

“Oh yeah, we can definitely unify (against Anthony Dirrell vs. David Benavidez winner). I ain’t hard to get a hold of. I ain’t hard to make a fight with. Come see me. You know my advisor.”

In the opening bout of the televised FOX telecast, undefeated Heavyweights were on display as Efe Ajagba (11-0, 9 KOs) of Nigeria took on Ali Eren Demirezen (11-1, 10KOs) of Turkey in a schedule 10 round contest.

The fight went the full distance and it came back unanimous as Judge Steve Weisfeld had it scored 97-93 and Judges, Adalaide Byrd and John McKaie had it the same at 99-91 for the winner and still undefeated, Efe Ajagba.

NON TELEVISED RESULTS


Abel Ramos TKO 4 Jimmy Williams –Welterweights

Genisis Libranza TKO 4 Carlos Maldonado- Flyweights

John Leo Dato TKO 5 Juan Antonio Lopez-Featherweights

OFFICIALS


Timekeepers: Steve Esposito and Steve Mazzagatti
Ringside Doctors: Lead: Jay Coates, 2nd Anthony Ruggeroli, 3rds David Watson and Damon Zavala
Executive Director: Bob Bennett
Chairman: Anthony A. Marnell, III
Commissioners: Staci Alonso, Christopher Ault, Dallas E. Hahn, Dr. Rober McBeath

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