But the 40-year-old rolled back the years to earn a split decision victory, with two judges scoring it 115-112 Pacquiao, and another giving it 114-133 in favour of Thurman.
Pacquiao for his part, perhaps inadvertently so, kept the idea going (as far fetched as it is at this point) with an impressive showing over Keith Thurman at the MGM Grand.
FS1 commentator Skip Bayless shared a short story of meeting Kawhi Leonard's infamous Uncle Dennis at the WBA welterweight title fight between Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman.
Despite that early setback, Thurman recovered well and began to box his way back into the contest in the middle rounds using his slick footwork and swift hand speed.
The eight-division world champion said he will now return to the Philippines to resume his work as a senator before deciding on his next move inside the ring.
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The Philippine National Police (PNP) also joins the Filipino people in celebrating Pacquiao's victory.
Almost 25 years after a 16-year-old Pacquiao stepped onto the scales for his pro debut with rocks in his pockets just to make the 105-pound minimum weight, the 40-year-old politician showed he could have several years left in his day job.
The Palace official lauded how Pacquiao was able to defeat his opponent, who was erstwhile undefeated and much younger than him. "He got the knockdown, so he had momentum in Round 1".
Pacquiao, though, responded in the 10th round with blows to the body and Thurman couldn't produce the big finish he realistically needed in the 12th. I wish I had a little bit more output to go toe to toe.
A dazzling combination wobbled Thurman again at the end of the second, and Pacquiao delighted the crowd with an Ali shuffle as the round closed. Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, has said he hopes Mayweather will come out of retirement for a rematch with Pacquiao. He also pumped up the promotion with a series of bold statements about Pacquiao's age, ability and motivation.