Keith Thurman vowed to retire Philippine boxing legend Manny Pacquiao on Wednesday as the two fighters traded verbal jabs ahead of the World Boxing Association battle for welterweight supremacy.
The undefeated Thurman, 30, takes on Pacquiao in Las Vegas on July 20 in a contest that pits the WBA’s “super world champion” against the body’s secondary “world” champion.
Thurman (29-0, with 22 knockouts) returned from a near two-year layoff to retain his title with a 12-round majority decision over Josesito Lopez on January 26.
Eight-division champion Pacquiao, who last fought in a one-sided demolition of Adrien Broner in January, is 10 years older than his American opponent. And as the two men came face to face at a press conference in Beverly Hills on Wednesday, Thurman vowed to make the age difference count.
“Pacquiao’s last fight, Pacquiao’s last fight,” Thurman said, while pledging to “dismantle” the 40-year-old Filipino icon.
“I’m destroying the legend of Manny Pacquiao,” Thurman said. “His legacy ends on July 20. He’s had a wonderful career, and been an inspiration. We all love him and respect him. And I’m respectfully going to kick the shit out of him.
“This is a big fight as far as the stage. But it’s a big fight against a little guy. I’ve dismantled veterans in the past, and throughout my career. I would have destroyed him five years ago.
“He’s never fought a fighter like me with the lateral movement, speed, power. He’s never fought anyone this young, strong and hungry and I’m coming for him.
“I know he likes to quote Bible verses so I’ll let you know – he’s getting crucified.”
Pacquiao, who mixes a political career as a senator in the Philippines with professional boxing, laughed off Thurman’s threats of annihilation.
“All I can say is that most of my opponents say things before a fight,” Pacquiao said. “That’s what I hear from them – ‘I’m easy to beat’. But when we get into the ring it changes. We’ll see who’s young in the ring on July 20.”