by Nick Giongco
Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman will unify the World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight title on July 20 either at the MGM Grand or T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao is the regular champion in the WBA’s 147-lb division while Thurman is the super champion, a non-traditional classification practiced by the South America-based WBA in recognizing its champions.
Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions (PBC), the outfit that promotes the vast majority of the world’s leading welterweights, made the formal announcement on Saturday night (Sunday in the Philippines) after weeks of speculation.
Pacquiao,(61-7-2 with 39 KOs) 40, beat up Adrien Broner last Jan. 19 in Las Vegas in the first defense of the crown he took from Lucas Matthysse last year in Kuala Lumpur.
Thurman (29-0 with 22 KOs), 30, saw action a week later and struggled against Josesito Lopez.
The Pacquiao-Thurman battle will be available on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View and is expected to draw a buzz given Pacquiao’s immense popularity.
American matchmaker Sean Gibbons, who represents the Philippines’ other world champion in Jerwin Ancajas, said a two-city press tour will take place next week with New York City as the first stop. Los Angeles will be the second and last leg of the whirlwind promotional tour that will see two facing off for the first time.
Pacquiao and Thurman are expected to kick off training camp as soon as the press tour is over with the former staking out in Manila or General Santos City.
Thurman, who hails from Florida, holds wins over some of the world’s finest welters, including Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter, fighters who are also under contract with PBC.
Pacquiao signed up with PBC last year after a long relationship with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., its main rival.
One of Pacquiao’s main reasons to hook up with Haymon was to lure Floyd Mayweather in a rematch following the disappointing outcome of their May 2015 superfight that ended with Mayweather earning a unanimous decision win.
Pacquiao claimed that he fought with an injured hand but assured everyone that if a rematch takes place, he’d get even with the flashy American fighter.