Eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao and unbeaten welterweight world champion Keith Thurman, plus unbeaten super middleweight champion Caleb Plant and unbeaten Mike Lee,squared-off for the second day in a row Wednesday, this time at a Los Angeles press conference as they previewed their respective showdowns taking place Saturday July 20 presented by Premier Boxing Champions and FOX Sports from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao and Thurman will battle in a welterweight world title attraction that headlines a PBC on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View event beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. Plant will make the first defense of his title against the unbeaten Lee in the main event of FOX PBC Fight Night and on FOX Deportes preceding the Pay-Per-View and beginning at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.
Tickets for the event, which is promoted by MP Promotions, Mayweather Promotions and TGB Promotions, are on sale now and can be purchased online through AXS.com, charge by phone at 866-740-7711 or in person at any MGM Resorts International box office. Plant vs. Lee is presented by TGB Promotions and Sweethands Promotions.
Here is what the fighters had to say Wednesday from The Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles:
“It’s easy for my opponents to talk before the fight, and I’m used to everything they say. But when we get to the ring, it changes, and it will change on July 20.
“I chose Keith Thurman because he’s a great fighter, he’s undefeated and because we can give a good fight to the fans. I want to make the fans happy on that night and show that I can still go toe-to-toe with any opponent.
“He said he’s young, but we’ll see who looks young in the ring on July 20. I’m going to let my fists say everything for me.
“We will work hard in training camp like always for this fight. We’re not going to take Keith Thurman lightly or underestimate him. He’s a world champion. I’m thankful for what he’s been saying, because it’s giving me motivation to prove that at 40-years-old, I feel 29.
“Keith Thurman is aggressive and throws a lot of punches. I’m hoping on July 20 he will follow through with what he says and fight toe-to-toe with me.
“The fans need to watch this fight because it’s a once in a lifetime fight. It’s going to be a Fight of the Year and full of action from start to finish. I’m ready to get it on July 20.
“Most of my opponents are bigger than me and I beat them all. When we get into the ring, it doesn’t matter. This has happened before and it will happen again against Thurman.
“My experience will be very important for this fight. It’s going to be useful against an undefeated fighter. I’m going to give him the experience of losing for the first time.
“I’m still having fun and enjoying the sport. I’m excited to go straight to the gym after this and start focusing on training for the fight.”
“It’s a blessing to be on this stage and have a fight of this magnitude. I’m an all-American fighter, an all-American champion and come July 20, I’m going to stay champion.
“Manny is a world class fighter. He’s a gentleman inside and outside of the ring. I look forward to trading punches with a living legend. But one thing’s for sure, he’s not walking away with my title.
“All Manny does is hop around in the ring. I’m not going to lose to a bunny rabbit. He’s not Tupac, but he does a little hip hop and he’s not going to stop until he gets dropped.
“Manny is a world class fighter, not a world class boxer. I’m going to trip him up in the ring and he won’t know what direction to turn to. I know who I am as a fighter, and it will be proven come July 20.
“I’m destroying the legend of Manny Pacquiao. His legacy ends on July 20 and mine begins. He’s an inspiration to many people throughout the world and everyone respects him, but I’m respectfully going to finish him.
“This is a big fight as far as the stage goes, but it’s a big fight against a little guy. He’s a veteran and I’ve dismantled veterans in the past. I believe I would have destroyed Manny Pacquiao five years ago. I’ve always been ready for this fight. He’s never fought someone like me with this kind of lateral movement, speed and power. I’m coming for him.
“I was in the gym four weeks ago starting some preparations. I wanted to get the ball rolling and use the momentum from my last training camp for this opportunity. Who better to showcase my skills and talent against than Manny Pacquiao? He chose me because it will be a guaranteed action fight.
“I think this is one of the best Manny Pacquiao fights in a long time. I’m going to bring it. Pacquiao did not get reminded in his last fight what it feels like to be up against a real champion. I’m the youngest, fastest, hungriest fighter that he’s ever been in the ring with. July 20, it’s the ‘Keith Thurman show’.”
“I never consider myself the A-side because my history says that I shouldn’t even be here. As beautiful as the belt is, it’s about more to me than that. It’s about legacy for me. I’ve been carrying myself as a world champion since the day I started this journey, so this is nothing new to me.
“I’m the whole package. I have speed, I have footwork, I have power, I have the heart and the will to win. Until you find someone else who’s all that, I’m going to keep having my hand raised.
“Where I’m from, there’s confrontation every day. This is nothing new to me. There are times I was told that I wouldn’t make it. Nobody paved the way for me like I’m from New York or Los Angeles. I paved my own way.
“Mike Lee is in uncharted territory. I’m curious on how he plans on beating me. Does he plan on roughing me up and trying to knock me out like my last opponent? Can he do that better than Jose Uzcategui? Is he going to try to outbox me with his hand and foot speed? Because there’s no person from 160 to 175 who could do that.
“I’ve been committed to the same thing for the last 18 years straight. Rain, sleet or snow, I stayed committed. I’m bred for this. I was created for this. It’s the only thing I’ve done my whole life. On July 20, I’ll be keeping the thing that I’ve worked my whole entire life for.
“At every decision that has to be made, you can go left or you can go right. From the genesis of my being, every time it was the moment to make a tough decision, I went the same way. Because I do not bend or fold for anything. No matter what’s tossed my way, this journey must go on for me. He said he has nothing to lose, but I have everything to lose.
“All the motivational videos that he watches and books that he reads, I’m the very essence and meaning of that. I’m the pinnacle of all those things he’s studied. You can’t learn mental fortitude in a book. Those things are earned, they’re not learned.”
“This is a dream come true for me. I’ve been through so much and there were days where I thought my dream was over. I’ve chased this since I was eight-years-old and I’m thankful for this chance to go after a dream that others thought I couldn’t reach.
“The beauty of this sport is that it’s only me and Caleb in there. Everyone else can only talk. I’ve been in the ring through adversity and stuck it out, because that’s the kind of person I am. I know that if I come on July 20 as the best Mike Lee possible, that I can win.
“I’ve been in the gym working every day. Doctors told me at one point that I wouldn’t fight again, but I’m still standing right here. I pushed through my pain to get here.
“I’m excited to be here in Los Angles, where we hold training camp. I’m bringing the belt back to Chicago, but Los Angeles is a second home to me.
“Today is the culmination of years of sacrifice, hard work and discipline. I’m undefeated for a reason but I feel people underestimate me and I like that. I’ve been underestimated my whole career. I’ve thrived off people say I couldn’t do it.
“I respect Caleb Plant. He’s the champion for a reason and I respect any fighter who can step into that ring. You have to be a different kind of animal to do that in front of all those people, and I am that animal.
“I’m coming with power, strength, speed and I’m going to give it everything I have. I’m going to become the new IBF Super Middleweight World Champion.”
RICHARD STURM, President of Las Vegas Live Entertainment & Sports
“I’d like to welcome back Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman, two of the world’s best fighters, back to Las Vegas and MGM Grand. Manny returns to the ring at MGM Grand following his convincing win in January while Keith will fight in Las Vegas for the first time in four years, looking to remain undefeated.
“We’re truly excited to be hosting this sensational event at MGM Grand and we look forward to seeing everybody in July.”
BILL WANGER, Executive Vice President of Programming, Research & Content Strategy for FOX Sports
“Manny Pacquiao vs. Keith Thurman is a living legend, versus a legend in the making. We’re excited to deliver an unprecedented night of boxing on July 20 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“Manny is one of boxing’s biggest stars. Keith Thurman is an undefeated world champion and a huge ratings draw. We’re excited to bring viewers inside the ropes and up close to the action on fight night, and produce extensive behind the scenes preview programming that will air across the FOX networks.
“FOX Sports is thrilled to have a battle on July 20 with such a compelling storyline to kick off a great night of championship boxing with the IBF champion Caleb Plant against the undefeated Mike Lee.
“In January, Caleb Plant headlined the most-watched boxing event ever on FS1. Now he’s fighting on the FOX network for the first time as the main event. At FOX Sports, big events that capture America’s attention are in our DNA. This fight certainly fits that bill.
“Our goal with the PBC deal is to build these fighters into household names, and we’re well on our way. We expect a great show on July 20 in Las Vegas.”