Manny Pacquiao vs. Keith Thurman will pit boxing's only eight-division world champion and Philippine Senator "Pac Man" against undefeated WBA Welterweight World Champion "One Time" in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View event Saturday, July 20 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Manny has spent about four weeks training in the Philippines, finishing his camp in Hollywood at the famous Wild Card Boxing Club with Freddie Roach, where he spoke exclusively on an international media call:
Q: Did you ever think that you'd still be not only boxing professionally but still at a very high level at the age of 40?
Pacquiao: Yes, that's what I'm trying to prove this time because we know that a lot of our fans and people in boxing were doubting my capability at the age of 40. So I have to prove something this time because at the age of 40 I'm not thinking about my age. I'm thinking about what I can do for the fans.
Q: What is it that gets you doing sit-ups in your front yard in the morning and running and putting in the hard work to train for these fights?
M. Pacquiao: I really love exercise. I'm addicted to exercise. And even if I don't have a scheduled fight, I always most every day I exercise and I'm playing basketball four to five hours almost every day. So when this time comes and when I have a scheduled fight, then I'm so motivated myself to work hard, to train hard, and to focus to the fight.
Q: You could certainly exercise and do basketball and do all the things you just mentioned without actually getting hit, right?
M. Pacquiao: Yes. Actually after the fight I don't go to the boxing gym. No boxing at all until I have a scheduled fight. But I always exercise like playing basketball, sometimes jogging. But no boxing gym at all.
Q: Freddie, what do you see as the motivation for his continued boxing career?
F. Roach: Well, it's still what he does best. It got him to where he is today. We want to fight a high level person. We're not in this game just to fight anybody. We want to be the best. And we'd like another championship and I don't think we'll stop until we get that. It's [been] a very good training camp, good sparring, and he's ready to go. We have one more day of sparring today and then we close the camp down. Just getting ready for the fight.
Q: Do you think, Freddie, that the opponent, Keith Thurman, is maybe the best of the opponents that Manny's been with probably since the Mayweather fight?
F. Roach: You can say that. But I don't think he's the best fighter. We've fought a bunch of better fighters along the way. But yes, he's a good, solid guy. And it should make for a very good fight.
Q: Do you feel that Thurman has gone over the line with some of the things he's said to you?
M. Pacquiao: Well, it is kind of over the line for me, but I'm not angry with him. I'm somebody very motivated by all he says. The trash talk that he did, he made even my mom get mad. But it gives me more motivation to focus the training and to focus on my condition, how hard I push the training.
And believe me, this is a very interesting fight for me because it has been a long time that I have focused like this for a fight.
Q: How closely did you watch that fight against Josesito Lopez? And do you feel like watching that fight that he'll be ready for you?
M. Pacquiao: I'm not considering his performance and style on that fight because he just came back from a long layoff of almost two years. So I understand that. This time, this fight I'm sure he'll be in 100% condition and I'm sure he did a lot of things in training.
Q: At this point at 40 years old, in the event that you lost this fight would you consider retirement or would you like to keep fighting?
M. Pacquiao: I'm still okay. I can still fight. My body's reacting well. My mind and everything is fine. And that's a big favor from God. This is a blessing.
Q: Freddie, I wonder if you're employing some reverse psychology when you're saying no, you're not predicting a knockout is going to happen for Pacquiao at this time. Is this a grand Freddie Roach plan reverse psychology?
F. Roach: No. Manny's in great shape for this fight and we worked very hard for this fight. And someone asked me if we were looking for a knockout. No, we never look for knockouts. But if it comes, Manny's in great shape right now and if Thurman wants to trade with us, he will get knocked out.
Q: Do you keep up on the politics and do you stay in touch with your vital political operatives and allies when you're overseas in America getting ready for a fight? Or can you leave politics alone and purely focus just on the boxing?
M. Pacquiao: I'm focused on my training here in America. We have a long office break. So we resume the work July 22 which is the State of the Nation Address of the President. That's the start of the work. That's why after the fight I have to go back to the Philippines to work.
But I'm hearing from my staff in the office, what bills that we're going to file and what we're going to do, how many resolutions to file before the session start open.
Q: Are you going to fight one more time this year you think or is that still up in the air?
M. Pacquiao: Yes, there is a scheduled recess. But we will figure it out when the session starts.
Q: How do you prepare for someone that you really haven't seen at his 100% best in at least a couple of years?
M. Pacquiao: I'm not basing anything off his last performances in his last fight because he was coming from a long layoff of almost I think almost two years. So I understand that as a boxer I really understand that it's hard to start again. But this time around he worked hard, he's well prepared for this fight because he's not fighting Lopez but he's fighting Manny Pacquiao. So I'm expecting him to work hard and prepare 100%.
Q: Yesterday at the media workout, I was reading that you said that Thurman remind you the most of Ricky Hatton of all the fighters that you faced in the past. And I'm curious to see why you think Thurman reminds you of Ricky Hatton?
M. Pacquiao: The style, the similar style like that. I think they have similar style. But not really the same but it does look like a similar style.
Q: Does it enter your mind as sort of when the window of this great run is going to close or that doesn't really enter your mindset?
M. Pacquiao: In balancing my body conditioning, my mind, and how I work hard, it depends on how I focus and work hard in training. Right now, I still hunger and I'm still enjoying this and happy to do a training preparation for the fight.
Even my coaching staff, they're very happy because they're still watching me and having to tell me when to stop, not watching me to push to do more. But watching me to stop because I might over train.
Q: Has your style changed at all over the years or do you fight the same way?
M. Pacquiao: My style is still the same but I'm more experienced now compared to before. How I fight in the ring and my strategy, my footwork that's not changing but it's still the same. But I'm more experienced and my timing in the ring is better than ever.
Q: Freddie from your perspective as the trainer, what do you see is the biggest difference in terms of let's say training and preparation for Manny at this age versus how you guys prepared back when he was younger?
F. Roach: His work ethic is unbelievable. He wants to work every minute of every day. He wants to do 40 rounds a day in the ring and so forth. We do have to hold him back a little bit. We're on a five-day running schedule right now instead of six and we're giving him a couple extra days off during the week trying to get him not to over train because he does have a tendency of wanting to do that.
We got him right where we want him right now and he's in great shape. He's ready to go.
Q: Is Keith Thurman the first opponent you've faced with a combination of both power and speed at the highest levels?
M. Pacquiao: In my experience, I've encountered many boxers that have speed and power. And this is not new for me. I think Thurman, he's not really that quick but I have to be careful in the ring, in the fight. I have to make sure that everything is fine.
F. Roach: Thurman's a strong guy and he's a good puncher. Manny's speed will overwhelm him, I feel. He hasn't been in the ring with speed like Manny Pacquiao has and most people get overwhelmed when they face Manny. His speed is unbelievable and at 40 years old it's as good as ever.
Q: What are your dreams in boxing right now Manny?
M. Pacquiao: I just want to maintain my name in the top of boxing and continue my career. I already accomplished what I want to accomplish in boxing. I'm continuing my career because boxing is my passion. I have lots to do in this, especially because God gave me these blessings and favor that they gave me good health and this is speed and power.
Q: How many fighters have you faced before that you think were better or more complete than Thurman?
M. Pacquiao: Thurman is a different style. Thurman I can say similar style with Ricky Hatton. But I won't take him lightly. I have to make sure that I'm not careless in the ring.
Q: What about your son fighting?
M. Pacquiao: My son is starting to do some boxing and I am going to support him.
Q: If Thurman fights exactly as you expect him to are you going to knock him out?
M. Pacquiao: That's going to be lovely if he fights toe to toe with me. Knockouts will come but I'm not saying that I'm going to have a prediction with this fight. I don't want to be careless in the fight.
But if that chance is given to me, why not? I have to grab that possibility to knock him out.
Q: If Thurman fights you the way Jeff Horn did, would that approach really bother you or would you welcome that?
M. Pacquiao: Actually, on the Jeff Horn fight I think I overtrained. That's why I have to admit that. But this time around my coaching staff, Freddie, Buboy Fernandez, Justin Fortune, they're watching closely to not let me get over trained so that in the fight I'm going to be throwing a lot of punches.
After the Horn fight, we learned a lot. I learned a lot. And we changed really the training, not the whole thing, but I give my body rest because it's hard to make my body recovery when you hit the age of 40.
Q: Freddie, Dan Birmingham and Keith Thurman confirmed that they're coming directly at you and looking for a knockout early in the fight. Thoughts?
F. Roach: Yes. Talk's talk. Let's see who really shows up.
Q: Do you feel as though Keith Thurman gives you any different challenges than Broner did?
M. Pacquiao: He has a different style compared to Broner. And I think this challenge is different than Broner's fight. But I know Broner is faster than Keith Thurman.
Q: Freddie, you said yesterday it's not like Thurman's a world class fighter. Why did you say that?
F. Roach: Because I think Broner is a better fighter.
Q: Will we ever see that Manny Pacquiao fight in the Philippines?
M. Pacquiao: That's what I'm looking for, I'd like to.
Pacquiao finished by saying, "Thank you everyone for this interview and I hope to see you in Vegas. And I can't wait to fight on July 20 next week. Thank you."
The pay-per-view begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and will also feature undefeated former world champion Omar "El Panterita" Figueroa Jr. taking on Yordenis Ugás in a WBC welterweight title eliminator, plus hard-hitting former world champion Sergey Lipinets goes toe-to-toe against rugged veteran John "The Gladiator" Molina, Jr. and undefeated power-puncher Luis "Pantera" Nery faces slick-boxing Juan Carlos Payano in a bantamweight bout.