Pacquiao, 10 years older than his opponent, rolled back the years with a masterful performance to become a world champion for the 13th time in a glistening career.
He hands Thurman the first defeat of his professional career with the Florida fighter having previously won all 29 bouts before stepping into the ring with 40-year-old ‘Pac-Man’.
The victory propels the 40-year-old into a possible unification bout with WBO champion Terence Crawford – with the division’s other two belt holders Errrol Spence Jnr (IBF) and Shawn Porter (WBC) set to meet in September.
Pacquiao secured a dramatic first round knockdown to take control of the fight, landing a stabbing body shot before following up with a swift right hook that sent his opponent to the mat for just the second time in his career.
The evergreen Filipino was too quick for Thurman, landing furious flurries at will as Thurman struggled to match his outstanding footwork in the ring.
Thurman did manage to pull back a couple of rounds in the second-half of the fight, but another tremendous body shot from Pacquiao halted that progress.
The fight would eventually go to the judges' scorecards, which fell 115-112, 115-112 and 113-114 in Pacquiao's favour.