LAS VEGAS: Boxing’s only eight-division world champion, Senator Manny “PacMan” Pacquiao dropped Keith “One Time” Thurman in round one and won a close split decision to earn a welterweight world title in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View event Saturday night from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
The sell-out crowd of 14,356 got treated to great action from the start, as an exciting first round was capped off by Pacquiao dropping Thurman for the first time in his career with a straight right hand late in the round.
Thurman made it into the second round but continued to have trouble with Pacquiao’s right hand, as the future Hall of Famer threw it successfully as a jab and a power punch throughout the fight. Thurman adjusted in the middle rounds and began to try to smother Pacquiao and walk him down, having success when he was able to get his combinations off before his opponent.
Despite blood pouring from his nose from round four on, Thurman was able to land powerful combinations on Pacquiao for much of the second half of the fight, but was never able to hurt Pacquiao or score a knockdown of his own.
In round 10, Pacquiao’s landed a strong left hook to the body that clearly hurt Thurman and forced him to spend much of the remainder of the round backpedaling. The CompuBox scores were indicative of the close nature of the fight, with Thurman out landing Pacquiao 210 to 195, while Pacquiao was busier throwing 686 punches to 571 from Thurman.
Watch the round 10 highlight HERE:
Pacquiao had a large advantage in jabs landed, connecting on 82 to Thurman’s 18. The 192 power punches landed by Thurman was the most in 43 Pacquiao fights that CompuBox has tracked. Round-by-round, the two fighters were only separated by more than five landed punches in rounds two, seven and nine.
After 12 rounds, the judges reached a split decision, with one judge scoring the fight 114-113 for Thurman, overruled by two judges scoring it 115-112 for Pacquiao, who captured the WBA Welterweight World Championship at 40-years-old.
The co-main event of the pay-per-view saw top contender Yordenis Ugas (24-4, 11 KOs) drop previously unbeaten Omar Figueroa (28-1-1, 19 KOs) on his way to a unanimous decision in their WBC welterweight title eliminator.
Ugas got off to a strong start, connecting on a straight right hand that sent Figueroa into the ropes, which he held onto so he didn’t hit the canvas, but enough that referee Russell Mora ruled it a knockdown.
Watch the highlight of the knockdown HERE:
Figueroa recovered and was able to make it to round two, where he continued his strategy of coming forward to try to hurt Ugas on the inside. Ugas was able to control that action on the inside, landing numerous uppercuts to stun Figueroa. However, the inside fighting led to Ugas being deducted a point by the referee in round five for holding.
Despite that, and being warned later in the fight for delivering low blows, Ugas dominated the fight according to CompuBox, out landing Figueroa 229 to 131 and connecting with 28% of his punches, to Figueroa’s 22%.
After 12 rounds, all three judges scored the fight the same, 119-107 in favor of Ugas, who became the mandatory for the winner of the Errol Spence Jr. vs. Shawn Porter welterweight title unification.
Additional action saw former world champion Sergey Lipinets (16-1, 12 KOs) score a highlight-reel knockout against Jayar Inson (18-3, 12 KOs) in the second round of their welterweight matchup.
Lipinets was originally scheduled to fight John Molina Jr., before Molina pulled out of the fight Friday morning due to a back injury. Inson, who was scheduled to fight on the non-televised undercard, stepped up to the challenge.
In an exchange early in the second round, Lipinets landed a clean left hook to Inson’s head, which sent the Filipino-fighter to the canvas. Although Inson got to his feet, referee Jay Nady waved off the bout 57 seconds into the round.
Watch the Lipinets KO highlight HERE:
The opening pay-per-view bout saw undefeated former champion Luis Nery (30-0, 24 KOs) deliver a ninth-round knockout of former bantamweight champion Juan Carlos Payano (21-3, 9 KOs).
In a fast-paced duel of former champions, Payano had success early boxing the aggressive Nery, moving back to avoid his attack and landing his own offense against the knockout artist. Payano out landed or was even in punches landed for each of the first six rounds of the bout.
As the fight grew into the middle rounds, Nery began to increase the offense and was able to land power shots that slowed Payano’s ability to box from the outside. Nery hurt Payano early in round seven, eventually dominating the round, out landing his opponent 22 to 7.
Round eight saw Nery continue to break Payano down, most notably landing a big left hand midway through the round that caused blood to pour from Payano’s nose. During an exchange in the ninth-round, Payano landed a devastating left hook to the ribs that put Payano down. He was unable to recover and referee Vic Drakulich halted the bout 1:43 into the round.
Watch Nery’s knockout HERE:
The FOX PBC Fight Night main event on FOX and FOX Deportes saw IBF Super Middleweight World Champion Caleb “Sweethands” Plant (19-0, 11 KOs) retain his title with a dominant third-round knockout over previously unbeaten Mike Lee (21-1, 11 KOs).
Plant got off to a fast-start, dropping Lee with a left hook late in the first round. The unbeaten challenger was able to recover and survive the round, but was hard-pressed to make up for the hand speed advantage of Plant.
You can watch Plant’s first knockdown HERE:
Lee looked to charge in hard against Plant and use his size and power to land a big shot and change the momentum of the fight. Plant was sharp and avoided the looping right hands that Lee was attacking with.
In round three, Plant landed a vicious right hook early in the round that put Lee down for the second time. After a left hook appeared to connect and send Lee down a second time, referee Robert Byrd ruled it had come from a push and continued the fight once Lee got to his feet.
Plant had his opponent hurt and continued to press forward, eventually landing another left hook that put Lee down, this time forcing the referee to wave off the bout 1:29 into the round.
Watch the highlight of Plant’s TKO HERE:
After the fight, Benavidez was asked about a possible unification fight against the winner of the just announced Anthony Dirrell vs. David Benavidez WBC Super Middleweight Championship fight.
The opening bout on FOX and FOX Deportes saw Efe Ajagba (11-0, 9 KOs) score a unanimous decision over Ali Eren Demirezen (11-1, 10 KOs) in a 10-round battle of undefeated heavyweights. It was the first time that two unbeaten fighters from the 2016 Olympics faced off as pros.
You can find full fight highlights HERE:
Ajagba used his jab and height effectively throughout the fight, landing 10 of 45 jabs per round, doubling the heavyweight average. However, an elbow injury and the accurate punching of Demirezen forced Ajagba to go the distance for the first time as a pro.
Demirezen thought the scorecards should have been closer and believed that his performance should have garnered him more than the decision loss. Demirezen was actually the more accurate puncher, landing 26% of his punches to 22% from Ajagba.
Ajagba’s activity from start to finish was impressive, as he threw 877 total punches, landing 191. While Demirezen was not far behind with 149 punches landed, he only out landed Ajagba in three rounds.
After 10 rounds of action all three judges scored the fight in favor of Ajagba, by scores of 99-91 twice and 97-93.