Manny Pacquiao admitted he relaxed in the middle rounds of his welterweight showdown with Keith Thurman, opening the door for the American to close the gap scoring-wise and even threaten to upset the Filipino boxing champ.

Pacquiao, who received a grand welcome at the ABS-CBN compound on Monday, provided more details on his mindset and strategy during the high-stake fight with Thurman last July 20 at MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The fighting Senator confessed that his decision to pace himself in rounds 6, 7, 8, and 9 after launching a furious assault on Thurman in the opening rounds allowed his opponent to pile on the points and mount a comeback in the fight.

“I relaxed in rounds 6,7,8,9.” Pacquiao told ABS-CBN “I relaxed a bit in these rounds and Thurman took the opportunity right away.

With his opponent starting to get his numbers, the eight-division champ said he sensed the need to throw more volume of punches in the championship rounds, putting him in position to land the telling blows that secured a 115-112, 113-114, 115-112 split-decision win over Thurman.

The game-changing punches

No one ever thought Pacquiao would stay relevant in boxing at 40-years-old. But Pacman has defied father time and time again, coming through with master performances against younger opponents like Thurman and Adrein Broner.

Pacman’s lethal combination of speed and power is supposed to fade as he ages, yet in his recent fight, he showed that he was the faster and even bigger puncher than Thurman.

He recalled the two particular highlights that set the tone of the fight: the three-combo punch that decked Thurman in the first round, and the cracking liver punch that almost took the air out of the American in the 10th round.

“The first round gave me some advantage,” Pacquiao told ABS-CBN. “In the early round, I showed to him [Thurman] that he must not underestimate or think me lightly.

I reminded him that he should be careful.”

“Starting from the 10th round, I began to go around him more, looking for a strategy where I can hit him without getting hit back. I had to launch more volume of punches.”

Pacquiao revealed that big body punch on Thurman was a key to winning the fight. He said that Thurman defense was starting to become a problem in the middle rounds, but that blow to the body forced the American to go out of his defensive shell.

What’s next for Pacman?

After taking another victory and pocketing more than $20 million in prize money and share of the pay-per-view revenue, Pacquiao has now reassumed his duty as a Senator in the Philippines.

He plans to put his in-ring activity on hold for the remainder of the year but stresses that he won’t retire anytime soon.

Right now, the winner of the Erroll Spence vs. Shawn Porter welterweight unification fight appears the most logical next opponent for Pacquiao. Then, there’s the possibility of a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr., who hasn’t ruled out a comeback at age of 42.