Forty-year old Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao has become the oldest welterweight champion in boxing history with a thrilling split decision victory over WBA champion Keith Thurman on Saturday.
Pacquiao, 10 years older than the previously undefeated Thurman, delivered a vintage performance at the MGM Grand Garden Arena to leave the sell-out crowd of 14,356 roaring its approval.
Pacquiao floored Thurman with an electrifying combination in the first round and remained on the front foot throughout a pulsating 12-round duel.
Although the bloodied Thurman rallied in the later rounds to narrow Pacquiao’s lead, the judges scored it in the Filipino’s favour. Two judges scored it 115-112 for Pacquiao with the third scoring it 114-113 for Thurman.
A jubilant Pacquiao punched the air as the arena erupted after the victory was confirmed.
“It was fun,” Pacquiao said afterwards. “My opponent is a good fighter and boxer. He was strong.”
Thurman had riled Pacquiao in the build-up to the fight by vowing to “crucify” his deeply religious opponent, and later promising to send the Filipino icon into retirement.
Pacquiao, who improved to 62-7-2 with 39 knockouts, was gracious in victory.