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Pacquiao and Thurman see postponement of Alvarez fight as an opportunity

Manny Pacquiao, left, and Keith Thurman stand face to face during a May news conference.
Manny Pacquiao, left, and Keith Thurman stand face to face during a May news conference.
(Andres Kudacki / AP)

A compelling fight between Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman might have become even more significant for the winner with the postponement Wednesday of Canelo Alvarez’s next bout from September to later in the year.

Thurman called the postponement another opportunity.

Sean Gibbons, Pacquiao’s advisor, said no Canelo fight in late summer represents a chance at more attention for the winner of a fight Saturday that is expected to lead to a welterweight unification bout with either Errol Spence Jr. and Shawn Porter.

“One-hundred percent, this is an opportunity,’’ Gibbons said Wednesday after a Pacquiao-Thurman news conference for the Fox pay-per-view bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. “Manny is still the biggest name in boxing. At 40, he can prove that all over again.’’

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Thurman said he would emerge from Saturday night’s bout with a better chance at bigger stardom and bigger money.

“Opportunities like this is when Keith Thurman has great fights,” Thurman said. “I do know that this is the biggest fight this summer. I’ve thought that all along.’’

A fast-moving day of news began with a Golden Boy Promotions announcement that Canelo, the reigning middleweight champ and arguably the biggest name in boxing, had postponed a bout planned for Sept. 14, two days before the Sept. 16 holiday celebrating Mexican Independence.

Keith Thurman has fought only once since 2017, but he insisted he won’t be rusty against Manny Pacquiao in a welterweight title fight Saturday in Las Vegas.

“As a Mexican, it’s a responsibility and an honor to represent my country in both May and September,” Canelo said in a statement.

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“Those are my dates. However, as a world champion in multiple weight classes, I also have the responsibility of delivering the most exciting and competitive fights possible. That’s why Golden Boy and my team have decided to postpone the date in order to do right by my fans by promoting the best fight possible and with the best opponent possible.”

There were expectations that Canelo’s third bout in an 11-fight, $365-million deal with video streaming service DAZN would be a third fight with Gennady Golovkin. They fought to a draw in the first one. Canelo won a decision in the second.

However, an agreement for the last leg in a trilogy was never reached amid reports that Canelo dislikes Golovkin. Then, negotiations for a Canelo fight at light-heavyweight against Sergey Kovalev failed. With no opponent and the clock running out, the decision was to postpone.

“We continue to work toward putting together a complete annual schedule for fight fans,’’ DAZN executive John Skipper said. “It would be premature to comment on our plans until we finalize the cornerstones of the 2019 calendar.

“Canelo is extremely important to DAZN, His first two fights generated significant subscription growth for our service and we’re excited to see him back in action later in the year.’’

In the meantime, Pacquiao and Thurman are more than happy to fill in.

They talked Wednesday as though the stage belonged to them and only them.

“I just want to prove that I can be as good as I have ever been at 40,’’ Pacquiao said.

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As Pacquiao, spoke, there was further news. The Athletic reported Wednesday that welterweights Spence and Porter will fight on Sept. 28 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Spence has the International Boxing Federation’s belt while Porter has the World Boxing Council’s version. The Thurman-Pacquiao winner will have the WBA title. Those are the three major belts. In an acrimonious business full of fractured titles, a unified champion is rare.

Pacquaio said that he has thought about unifying the title, even if it means a bout against the powerful Spence, who is bigger and believed to be the biggest puncher in the division.

“Yeah, yeah, absolutely,’’ Pacquiao said. “Why not?’’


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