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Manny Pacquiao wins in split decision

By Greg Beacham // AP Sports Writer

LAS VEGAS (AP) — From his first-round knockdown punches to his tenacious 12th-round finish, Manny Pacquiao gave yet another one-sided thrashing to Father Time.

Keith Thurman was a whole lot tougher to beat, but the 40-year-old Filipino senator managed to win that vote as well.

Pacquiao floored Thurman early and persevered late to an exciting split-decision victory Saturday night, adding a third straight win to his late-career resurgence.

Pacquiao (62-7-2) dropped his previously unbeaten opponent with a combination late in the first round, and the Pac-Man dominated the opening rounds with a combination of flair and power that recalled the incredible prime of the only eight-division champion in boxing history.

Thurman (29-1) showed remarkable tenacity in rallying through the middle rounds, repeatedly testing Pacquiao’s chin with big shots. Neither fighter managed another knockdown, but they pushed relentlessly in front of a sellout crowd at the MGM Grand Garden that repeatedly chanted Pacquiao’s name from the moment he reached the ring.

“It was fun,” Pacquiao said. “My opponent is a good fighter and boxer. He was strong. … I think he did his best, and I did my best. I think we made the fans happy tonight because it was a good fight.”

Two judges scored the bout 115-112 for Pacquiao, while Glenn Feldman scored it 114-113 for Thurman. The Associated Press also scored it 115-112 for Pacquiao.

Thurman’s effort was impressive on paper: He landed slightly more punches than the famously active Pacquiao, and his 192 power punches landed were the most by any Pacquiao opponent in his 43 fights that were tracked by CompuBox. But Pacquiao had a dominant jab, and he outworked Thurman in the 12th round, throwing 56 punches to win the round on two judges’ cards.

Both fighters started quickly with a series of good-looking exchanges, but Pacquiao changed the bout in an instant. He moved forward to land a left to the body and a right hook that sent Thurman to the canvas with 25 seconds left in the first round.

Thurman got up comfortably while the ecstatic crowd roared, but Pacquiao kept up his superior work for the next two rounds, repeatedly rocking Thurman with a variety of shots. Even when Thurman put together a solid fifth round, he was stunned several times in the final minute and left with blood on his face.

But Thurman gathered himself and soundly beat Pacquiao through the middle rounds, forcing Pacquiao to show off his durable chin. Pacquiao reversed the momentum in the 10th with a series of big shots, including a punch to the body that sent Thurman stumbling away in obvious pain.

Both fighters pushed to the final bell and embraced. Pacquiao won the final round on two judges’ cards, while Feldman’s 12th-round score for Thurman kept Pacquiao from winning by unanimous decision.

After graciously congratulating Pacquiao, Thurman called for a rematch. The pro-Pacquiao Vegas crowd vocally approved.

Nearly 25 years after a 16-year-old Pacquiao stepped onto the scales for his pro debut with rocks in his pockets just to make the 105-pound minimum weight, this middle-aged politician showed he could have several years left in a day job that paid him a guaranteed $10 million on Saturday night.

Thurman had been eager to retire Pacquiao, but he couldn’t even hurt the ageless wonder.

But Thurman embraced his guaranteed $2.5 million payday and the chance to take on an active legend. He also pumped up the promotion with a series of bold statements about Pacquiao’s age, ability and motivation. Thurman even managed to irk the normally placid Pacquiao, who acknowledged that even his mother hadn’t liked Thurman’s trash talk.

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