Prizefight Preview: Manny Pacquiao vs. Chris Algieri
- Updated: November 18, 2014
A great champion is in exile. A great champion is suffering his lowest point of career relevance since he starched faded, former superstar Oscar De La Hoya into retirement back in 2008. A great champion is facing doubts about his age and condition from a cynical media as he prepares to face an unproven young titlist named Chris Algieri (20-0, 8 KO); a man who is, perhaps, more infamous than famous on social media for his metrosexual tendencies than fighting abilities. This is the scenario which Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38 KOs) faces when he steps into the ring during the early morning hours of 23 November in the southern Chinese protectorate of Macau, a former Portuguese territory which has been turned into a haven of sin and the new home of Manny Pacquiao’s boxing career. The fight is being scheduled at this odd hour to cater to Western audiences and to an HBO PPV broadcast in America, which has been met with relative malaise from a public who are largely suspect about Pacquiao’s skills and choice of opponent and who are distant from the promotional efforts taking place in Macau. It has less a feel of a prizefight than any Manny Pacquiao scrap in recent memory and, yet, the fight offers several interesting dilemmas.
The choice of venue and relative lack of interest from casual fans in the states is of little interest to Team Pacquiao. The Cotai Arena at the Venetian Macau has already offered a lucrative site fee for the bout and Manny will continue to make a princely sum for the fight regardless of how American fans feel about his choice of opponent. Chris Algieri is a scrappy and technically savvy young pug who found himself in this opportunity after pulling off an upset against Pacquiao’s planned opponent, Ruslan Provodnikov back in June 2014 in a bout which was supposed to be a showcase for Ruslan. Algieri, instead, survived two early knockdowns and a swollen eye to outbox the brutal but rudimentary Russian. Algieri now finds himself in the odd spot of being one win away from stardom. Just one year ago, he was facing journeyman in small theaters throughout the New York-Tristate area on local television. Now, he’s inches away from becoming a multi-millionaire. Boxing in the 21st century.
On paper, Pacquiao should be able to dust Algieri with ease. While Pacquiao has not secured a knockdown since the first year of the President Obama administration – a 2009 TKO against Miguel Cotto – Algieri is prone to being knocked down and has eaten his way up to the 144 lb catch weight the bout will be fought at. Algeri – 8 knockouts against light opposition – also lacks the clear punch to be able to subdue and place fear into the heart of Pacquiao, such as what Juan Manuel Marquez was able to accomplish. Pacquiao, despite the age critiques being lobbed at him, is coming off two impressive wins against genuine contenders in Brandon Rios and Timothy Bradley Jr. Pacquiao was not the same man who erased Ricky Hatton, but he was certainly still a prized pugilist during those bouts. Chris Algieri can hardly lay such a claim.
But, alas, what Algieri does have is fresh, young legs and a proven record of subduing aggressive fighters who take his offense lightly. Pacquiao, meanwhile, can no longer dance around the fact that his legs are not nearly as strong as what they were four years ago. Manny is now the veteran relying on tricks accumulated over 60 professional fights to compensate for the onset of his physical decline. Of course, this knowledge has allowed Pacquiao to perform more than adequately against topnotch fighters in Rios and Bradley who came into their fights with Manny with an eye towards roughing the 35-year old up and sinking him. That hasn’t worked and we’ve still not been given any signs that Chris Algieri is on the level of those two individuals.
Algieri is being placed in a rare situation which was aided by the fact that Pacquiao does not have a long list of potential opponents whom he hasn’t faced. Pacquiao and Bob Arum will not work with any fighters managed by Al Haymon, which leaves a long list of potential challengers out of the equation… including you know who. Thus, we’re given story after story by Team Pacquiao press releases about how Algieri is a credible opponent. And, who knows, just as many wait for the day when Tim Duncan and Tom Brady are finally old and shot, maybe, just maybe that day will come for Manny against Algieri. Maybe Algeri’s younger legs will befuddle the former champion and showcase his age and declining skills. Maybe, but not likely. Pacquiao rolls to a unanimous decision victory and Team Pacquiao goes back to the drawing board to determine how they return the Filipino Flash to the relevance he had just a few years prior.