On July 20, Manny Pacquiao, 40, faces welterweight titlist Keith Thurman, who is a decade younger. Thurman, who hadn't fought in nearly two years, survived his last fight against Josesito Lopez. The aging Pacquiao will be fighting for the second time this year. We asked veteran trainers to assess Pacquiao and Thurman ... then let the fighters respond to their own scouting reports.
TRAINER ON PACQUIAO Pacquiao will underestimate Thurman's punching power. Thurman is being judged by his last fight against Josesito Lopez [a 12-round majority decision for Thurman on Jan. 26]. You can't do that. He had been out of the ring for more than a year.
PACQUIAO I've been over his last fight; I've been over the fight he had before that. I'm sure he trains hard and is prepared, but I'm different [from his previous opponents]. I respect his power, but I can handle it.
TRAINER Pacquiao [61-7-2, 39 KOs] will fight Thurman the same way he's been fighting for years, with in-and-out movement. But I just don't see it working.
PACQUIAO That's our focus for this training, side by side and in and out. In the gym, our focus is footwork. I just work hard. It's much easier when you move around.
TRAINER As you get older, you're not as fast or strong. And Keith is a hard guy to hit -- you're not just going to wind up and hit him.
PACQUIAO I'm so thankful for good health and that I'm able to do what I did when I was young. The speed is still there, the strength is still there, so that's why I'm still here continuing my career.
TRAINER But Thurman [29-0-0, 22 KOs] has good power too, and Pacquiao runs into right hands all night. It's going to be a very, very tough fight for Manny Pacquiao.
PACQUIAO I know about his right hand, so I have no problem with that. I'll be able to handle it. We will make sure our techniques and strategies address that. I'm feeling excited. This is going to be a good fight. I can't wait for it.
TRAINER ON THURMAN Thurman's youth -- at 30 years old, he's a lot younger than Manny Pacquiao -- could be the reason that he'll win the fight. Not because he's a better fighter, not because he's faster, not because he's stronger. I don't see anything that he has that's better than Pacquiao, except for his youth.
THURMAN I do believe there's a little bit of an advantage, but Manny Pacquiao seems to be in tremendous shape. Ultimately, what's going to help me is my skill set. I've always been better than Manny Pacquiao. Six years ago, I would have beaten Manny Pacqiuao.
TRAINER But against Lopez, Thurman showed that he was smart in the ring. He used his brains, not just his bulk.
THURMAN At the end of the day, I'm a boxer-puncher. I've had over 100 amateur fights. Manny learned how to fight as a professional. Manny is not the world's best boxer today. He wasn't the best boxer when he was in his prime. Manny is a world-class fighter. I believe that my boxing skills and my ring IQ is going to help me.
TRAINER He found a way to survive despite being injured in the Lopez fight; he didn't fight his best fight being off for two years, but it didn't really affect him.
THURMAN That fight was a comeback fight after 22 months of inactivity. So I was brushing off the rust. I've trained a lot harder in prep for this fight. I was prepared to win my last fight. I wasn't prepared to put on one of the best performances of my career. I believe we're back in motion [toward that goal].
TRAINER And I believe he'll be better on July 20 than he was in January.
THURMAN I believe this performance is going to show that. I hired strength and conditioning coaches for [this fight]. I trained myself for my last fight. I did my boxing training with my coach, but my strength and conditioning I did by myself at LA Fitness. I didn't take Josesito Lopez that serious because I knew Keith Thurman could beat Josesito Lopez any day of the week. For Manny, I've put together a real 10-week training camp.