Thurman is actually better than Spence, says coach Freddie Roach

Published July 16, 2021, 4:19 PM

by Carlo Anolin

Veteran coach Freddie Roach believes that Keith Thurman, the former opponent of Manny Pacquiao, is the better fighter compared to Errol Spence Jr.

In this file photo, Manny Pacquiao (right) throws a punch straight to Keith Thurman’s face in their super WBA welterweight title bout last July 2019. (MP Promotions)

Roach made the assessment after reviewing some recorded tapes of Spence, the unified WBC and IBF welterweight champion, in preparation for Pacquiao’s comeback in Las Vegas, Nevada on Aug 21.

READ: Pacquiao: Same intensity, different style vs southpaw Spence

Pacquiao and Spence will dispute the WBC and IBF belts along with the vacant The Ring title at the T-Mobile Arena.

The 61-year-old Roach, however, is glad over the fact that Pacquiao, his longtime student who became the only eight-division world boxing champion, is still fighting at a high level despite his age.

READ: Thurman warns Spence: Pacquiao loves challenge

“I think it’s the right fight for him now,” Roach told “I think his last opponent [Thurman] is actually better than Spence. I’ve been studying [Spence’s] tapes and so forth and going through what he does well and what he doesn’t do well. And I think it’s a good fight for Manny. I like the fight a lot. And I like that it’s a competitive fight. I like that Manny doesn’t just wanna fight stiffs or actors or whatever it may be. He’s still fighting real people.

“This fight is a real fight. And this is not an easy fight for either person. We had a real nice press conference [Sunday]. They both were very respectful of each other, and they both are gonna come to win. That’s for sure. That’s what we intend to do,” added the Hall of Famer trainer.

READ: Pacquiao puts premium on discipline, conditioning ahead of Spence mega-bout

Going back on his assessment, Roach observed that Thurman is a “little bit stronger” and throws more combinations than Spence.

Roach added that the 31-year-old Spence tends to make more mistakes compared to the former super WBA welterweight titleholder.

READ: Pacquiao: Spence is one of the biggest challenges in my career

And the American trainer said it is one factor that Pacquiao needs to take advantage of.

“Just watching tapes on them and studying both fighters, I think Thurman throws more combinations and I think he’s a little bit stronger,” said Roach. “Spence has a few flaws. He makes some mistakes that we’re gonna take advantage of. Watching tapes on both guys, I see more mistakes by Spence than I did with Thurman.”

READ: Fortune says Pacquiao at 80 percent; sparring mate impressed

Pacquiao beat Thurman in July 2019 to capture the super WBA welterweight belt and improve at 62-7-2 record on top of 39 knockouts.

But the Filipino fighting senator got stripped of his belt last January due to inactivity as the WBA declined Pacquiao’s appeal for reinstatement a week ago.

READ: Mamba Mentality: Pacquiao pays homage to Kobe Bryant in US training

Spence, for his part, is undefeated in 27 matches with 21 KOs with the latest victory coming from Danny Garcia last December.