Manny Pacquiao will return to the ring July 20 to fight fellow World Boxing Assn. welterweight champion Keith Thurman, another prominent opponent more than 10 years his junior, Premier Boxing Champions announced Saturday.
The bout, to be televised on Fox pay-per-view, is expected to be staged in Las Vegas.
Record eight-division champion Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 knockouts) is coming off a unanimous-decision victory in January over former four-division champion Adrien Broner to defend his secondary WBA belt.
Florida’s Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs) performed flatly in defeating Riverside’s Josesito Lopez by majority decision in January, but he’s previously won bouts over current welterweight champion Shawn Porter, former two-division champions Danny Garcia and Robert Guerrero.
“Don’t be fooled by how Thurman looked against Lopez. He was simply coming back from injuries,” Pacquiao manager Sean Gibbons said Saturday. “We know the fighter Keith Thurman is, and this speaks to the greatness of the senator from the Philippines (Pacquiao) and his willingness to fight the best out there. Before Thurman was ever hurt, he was considered the best welterweight out there.”
Porter, the World Boxing Council champion, is now being pointed to a late summer unification bout against unbeaten International Boxing Federation champion Errol Spence Jr., with the winners of these two fights expected to meet afterward.
Pacquiao, 40, has a break in his political duties that will allow him to have a full uninterrupted training camp, Gibbons said, and the work will be done at trainer Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood.
The July 20 card also will include the first title defense by super-middleweightchampion Caleb Plant against Mike Lee.