LAS VEGAS – The predictions are in from around the boxing world and the expert group that was polled is nearly split 50-50, but overall gives eight-division champion Senator Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao a slight edge over WBA Welterweight World Champion Keith “One Time” Thurman ahead of their Premier Boxing Champions on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View main event this Saturday from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
The tally was 24-to-19 for Pacquiao over Thurman, with three picking a draw. Pacquiao even has a chance to stop Thurman based on the picks of at least three former champions who participated in the poll, while two picked Thurman to end the night early. In addition, eight respondents believe the fight is so evenly-matched that it will end in a split-decision.
Here are the predictions from a mix of boxing legends, current and former champions and contenders, plus some of the most renowned trainers in the sport:
Thomas Hearns, former five-division champion
Pick: Pacquiao W 12. Manny Pacquiao has the better skills and the experience overall in comparison to Keith Thurman, and I see Manny winning a decision by just out-boxing him.
Deontay Wilder, WBC Heavyweight Champion
Pick: Thurman SD 12. I like both fighters and what they’ve been able to achieve. Manny Pacquiao’s a legend who still is among the world’s best fighters despite his age and having to overcome so many ups and downs. But I’m going with Keith Thurman on a split-decision in this one based on his youth and mentality. People are talking about Keith’s last fight against Josesito Lopez, but he feels like he’s the best, and that he’s not going to let anyone take that away from him.
Roy Jones Jr., Former Three-Division World Champion
Pick: Pacquiao W12: I’m going to go with Pacquiao because he’s the older and therefore more experienced fighter.
Errol Spence Jr., IBF Welterweight Champion
Pick: Thurman SD 12. It just depends on which Pacquiao shows up and which Keith shows up. I think Keith will be a lot sharper than he was in his last fight. You know he had a long layoff and is just coming back. Keith is a lot tougher than people think he is. He took a lot of punches in that last fight. He took a lot of punches in the Shawn Porter fight, too. He might be a boxer, but he’s tough and he’s gritty, so I think he’s going to win a split-decision or he’s going to blow him out. It just depends on which Pacquiao comes out. If he can turn the tables a little bit and become the Pacquiao of back then, I think he can win. But if it’s the Pacquiao that fought Broner, then I think Keith will edge him out and outpoint him. Keith can get on his bicycle and move around and just pot shot him. I think Keith will edge it out.
Sugar Ray Leonard, former five-division world champion
Pick: Thurman W 12. Keith Thurman has a ton of talent, power and speed. I like him to win.
Gerry Cooney, former heavyweight title contender
Pick: Pacquiao W 12. Manny Pacquiao’s been a phenom, but age has been creeping up on him. Thurman’s gonna try to box and use his power, and Manny’s been knocked out before. It’s a 50-50 fight, but I’m going with Pacquiao, who is really awkward and fast, to win a decision.
Shane Mosley, former three-division world champion
Pick: Pacquiao W 12. I think that Pacquiao is going to win because of the experience, the speed and his power.
Shawn Porter, WBC Welterweight Champion
Pick: Pacquiao W 12. I’m going with Manny Pacquiao, who still has the hunger, several levels of competitive spirit and quickness out of that southpaw stance that’s hard to game plan for. Keith Thurman’s young but coming off of a very long layoff and a level of relaxation and comfort that makes it difficult for me to see him being ready for this fight. I don’t think Keith’s body will be able to withstand what’s going to come during those championship rounds. Pacquiao weathers the early storm and wins a decision.
Andy Ruiz Jr., Unified Heavyweight World Champion
Pick: Pacquiao W 12. I’m going with Pacquiao because of his speed and aggressiveness.
Mikey Garcia, four-division world champion
Pick: Pacquiao W 12. Ultimately Manny’s footwork, hand-speed, combinations and volume punching will carry him throughout the rounds. Keith Thurman has the power to win it, and he’s very dangerous for that power, but he’s not a better fighter, overall, than Manny. I think Manny takes it.
Julian Williams, WBA & IBF 154-pound World Champion
Pick: Thurman SD 12. Manny’s always super-competitive and I believe we’ll see a hungrier and more determined Manny Pacquiao than the one who beat Adrien Broner. Manny may even be able to hurt Keith Thurman as he does everybody, but I believe Keith Thurman will have too much youth for him. Keith may not look great, but I’m going with Keith to win a close decision.
Derrick James, trainer of welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. and former champion Jermell Charlo
Pick: Thurman W 12. I think Keith Thurman’s gonna beat Manny Pacquiao by a decision as long as he can do what he did for the first seven rounds against Josesito Lopez for 12 rounds against Pacquiao. Keith’s consistency will win the fight.
Leo Santa Cruz, WBA Featherweight World Champion
Pick: Thurman W 12: I feel that Keith Thurman is going to win because he’s younger.
Roberto Duran, former four-division world champion
Pick: Pacquiao W 12: Manny Pacquiao is very tough and for me, he is going to win this fight.
Robert Garcia, trainer of former four-division champion Mikey Garcia, contender Josesito Lopez
Pick: Thurman W 12. Keith Thurman is strong, solid and smart in the ring, and he has youth on his side, so I see him winning a unanimous decision. I would no doubt pick Manny Pacquiao if this was four or five years ago the way he was dominating, but with him being at the age of 40, that’s hard for me to do.
Paulie Malignaggi, former two-division champion
Pick: Thurman TKO 11. I saw Pacquiao in January beating Adrien Broner who was willing to enter the pocket but not let his hands go. Pacquiao is not a defensive genius, and I’m not saying that he’s super hittable. But I do see Keith catching up to him and winning by a late-round TKO.
Tony Harrison, WBC Super Welterweight Champion
Pick: Draw. I have so much love and respect for Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman and I’ve seen fire in each of their eyes. I am envisioning an action-packed, seesaw battle that enhances the legacies of both fighters with the fans getting their money’s worth. Manny’s been re-awakened into the beast he’s been in the past, and when the final bell rings, I believe this fight will end in a draw.
Jarrett Hurd, former unified 154-pound champion
Pick: Thurman W 12. I believe the youth of Keith Thurman will play a big factor. Yes, Thurman had a long layoff but I think he broke the ring rust after the Josesito Lopez fight.
Josesito Lopez, Former title challenger
Pick: Pacquiao SD 12. In our fight, Keith Thurman took a really hard punch from me that would have taken out almost anyone. That proves a lot about his championship ability to come back to win a fight. Thurman has great power and boxing skills and movement, but I still see Pacquiao pulling out a close decision victory.
Gary Russell Jr., WBC Featherweight Champion
Pick: Pacquiao W 12. Keith Thurman is probably the bigger, stronger fighter, which will give him the puncher’s chance, but I think Manny Pacquiao’s work ethic and his punch output will dictate the fight. I really like Keith Thurman, but I don’t know which Keith will show up. He has the ability to get Pacquiao outta there, but I see Pacquiao being more consistent. So, I think Manny’s gonna outwork him and take it.
Ronnie Shields, trainer of 160-pound champion Jermall Charlo, former 154-pound champion Erislandy Lara
Pick: Thurman W 12. Keith is fast on his feet and has enough boxing ability to keep Manny at bay. I don’t believe a KO will occur. I really believe they both will try for one, but in order for Manny to win, he has to hurt Keith early and often. I don’t see it any other way.
Jessie Vargas, former two-division champion
Pick: Pacquiao W 12. I’m going with Manny Pacquiao because of his experience and explosiveness and the fact that I believe that’s something Keith Thurman’s never seen before. A knockout for Pacquiao is 85% possible. Each is a great fighter who doesn’t back down.
Stephen Edwards, trainer of unified 154-pound champion Julian Williams
Pick: Draw. I can’t call this fight. I was picking Keith Thurman due to youth and not being the better fighter. I thought he would control Manny Pacquiao with a check hook. But Thurman has not looked right to me in the training footage. Maybe that’s a ploy. Who knows? One fighter is 40 and the other looks rusty. I expect a close and controversial draw.
Sergio Mora, former 154-pound champion
Pick: Thurman KO 9. Manny Pacquiao’s speed and footwork has diminished with age but he is still dangerous. Both will be aiming for the body and both will have their moments. Ultimately, I see Pac getting over aggressive and caught attempting to be great once again. Size and youth prevails in an exciting and competitive fight.
Andre Berto, former two-time 147-pound champion
Pick: Thurman W 12. I’m picking Keith Thurman to win a decision because he is younger, faster and stronger than Manny Pacquiao.
Omar Figueroa, former world champion
Pick: Pacquiao by KO 8. Keith Thurman is a really smart fighter, but he leaves himself open with some of his punches. I think Manny Pacquiao catches him with those short lefts and right hooks inside and possibly stops the fight in eight.
Robert Guerrero, former two-division champion
Pick: Pacquiao by late round KO. Manny’s experience, combined with this speed and power, hitting off angles, is going to be too much for Keith Thurman.
Jay Deas, trainer of WBC Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder
Pick: Thurman W 12. Can Manny Pacquiao spell bound Keith Thurman, building a lead and holding off a late-round Thurman rally to take a decision? I don’t think so with only one knockout since 2010. Thurman’s left hand will be a key if he can jab the southpaw Pacquiao effectively. If Thurman is intelligently aggressive, uses his left and starts and finishes the exchanges, I believe he will win a decision in an exciting fight.
Joel Diaz, renowned trainer
Pick: Pacquiao W 12. Keith Thurman didn’t look good against Josesito Lopez, who is a warrior but not on the level of a Manny Pacquiao. Pacquiao’s a lefty with great speed and footwork to create problems for Thurman. Thurman’s bigger, younger and stronger, but Pacquiao has the power to hurt Thurman with either hand. I see Pacquiao increasing the pace over the later rounds and winning a decision.
Abner Mares, former three-division champion
Pick: Thurman W 12. Everyone is going off Manny Pacquiao’s last performance, where he looked phenomenal against an Adrien Broner who didn’t throw a lot of punches and was on the ropes a lot. Pacquiao’s not fighting Broner but a Thurman who knows how to work every round. He got hurt against Josesito Lopez, but that was after a long layoff.
Erislandy Lara, former 154-pound champion
Pick: Pacquiao W 12. This is a true 50-50 fight and a great one for the boxing fans. Going off their last few performances, I’m leaning towards Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao to win a decision. But I wouldn’t be shocked to see Keith Thurman return to form.
Sergey Lipinets, former 140-pound champion
Pick: Draw. The fight looks like a 50-50 proposition. Manny Pacquiao is a way more diverse fighter then Keith Thurman. The big question would still be if Pacquiao has got any of that left or enough to maintain that through 12 rounds. I think we’ll see them fight to a draw.
Gary Russell Sr., father and trainer of 126-pound champion Gary Russell Jr.
Pick: Thurman W 12. Manny Pacquiao has a herky-jerky style that can cause problems for Keith Thurman, who I don’t think can out-box Pacquiao. Keith’s gonna have to be the more physical fighter, coming out as the stalker and going to the body. I think that ultimately that’s what he’s gonna do to win a decision.
David Benavidez, former 168-pound champion
Pick: Pacquiao by KO 9. I feel like Manny is going to have a hard time with Keith Thurman running around in the first few rounds. Then I expect “PacMan” to start hurting Thurman by Round five or six and then I see him stopping “One Time” around the ninth. It’s gonna be a great fight though.
Marcus Browne, interim WBA 175-pound champion
Pick: Thurman W 12. This is a great fight that’s tough to call, so to pick a draw wouldn’t be far-fetched. I’m a big Manny Pacquiao fan and he looked great in his last fight beating Adrien Broner. But Keith ain’t Adrien Broner, and I think he’ll overcome the ring absence since he appears to be in a zone. I’m going to choose Keith to win a close decision.
Ruben Guerrero, father and trainer of former two-division champion Robert Guerrero
Pick: Pacquiao SD 12. It’s going to be one hell of a fight, but Manny Pacquiao will win the later rounds to win a close one.
Luis Ortiz, heavyweight title contender
Pick: Pacquiao SD 12. Manny Pacquiao will win via decision. He has too much experience and has been active. Keith Thurman has been too inactive. I think it will probably be a split decision for Pacquiao.
Erickson Lubin, 154-pound title contender
Pick: Pacquiao SD 12. Manny Pacquiao’s southpaw style will confuse Keith Thurman. “Pacman” wins by split-decision with his power, speed and combination punching.
Austin Trout, former 154-pound champion
Pick: Thurman SD 12. I’m going to rock with my man Keith Thurman. People who are judging off his last fight don’t understand how much inactivity can play a role. Now that the rust is off, I expect Keith to pull it off. Keith is going to go above and beyond in what will be a 12-round fight that he’s gonna win by a split-decision.
Kevin Cunningham, trainer of Erickson Lubin
Pick: Pacquiao W 12. I’m gonna have to go with Manny Pacquiao on this one because he still has good speed, explosiveness, footwork and punches well in combinations. Keith Thurman may be looking to land something big, and he may be able to hurt Manny in some way, but I’m picking Manny by decision.
Jamal James,147-pound contender
Pick: Pacquiao W 12. Keith Thurman comes in with great skills, but I don’t see him beating Manny Pacquiao, who is a really crafty southpaw, is still quick on his feet, and throws fast, sharp combinations. I don’t think Keith can match Pacquiao’s hand-speed and footwork. I can’t rule out a knockout, but I think Pacquiao wins a decision.
Caleb Truax, former 168-pound champion
Pick: Pacquiao W 12. I think the smart pick is Keith Thurman, but I can’t bet against Manny Pacquiao. I have “PacMan” by close decision in a back and forth fight.
Calvin Ford, trainer of WBA 130-pound champion Gervonta Davis
Pick: Thurman W 12. Keith Thurman’s motivated to get his name back into the spotlight, but Manny Pacquiao looks as if he’s up to the challenge after beating Adrien Broner. Pacquiao throws a lot of punches, but I’m going with the younger guy on this one and Thurman winning a great fight by decision.
Andre Rozier, trainer of former 160-pound champion Daniel Jacobs
Pick: Thurman W 12. I have a tale of two fights for you. If we see the “One Time” Thurman of old, it will be a long night for the “PacMan.” If we see the tentative, super cautious Thurman that we have been seeing lately, the “PacMan” will have a chance.
Stephen Fulton, Unbeaten 122-pound contender
Pick: Pacquiao W 12. I see Manny Pacquiao winning a unanimous decision based on his activity and that fact that Keith Thurman has been inactive for a while. Pacquiao lets his hands go more than Thurman, and I believe that, as well as Pacquiao’s heart and being smarter in the ring, wins the fight.
Mario Barrios, undefeated 140-pound contender
Pick: Pacquiao W 12. I believe Manny’s going to be too crafty for Keith Thurman and Thurman won’t be able to land those big shots on him.
Pacquiao – 24
Thurman – 19
Draw – 3