By Jake Donovan
It’s been a banner year for Chris Algieri, regardless of the outcome of his next fight. The fact that he landed a seven-figure payday in his November 22 showdown with Manny Pacquiao only speaks volumes to the 2014 campaign he’s enjoyed to this point.
A year that began with a sound points win over Emmaneul Taylor became a Cinderella story with his major upset win in a debatable split decision over Ruslan Provodnikov in June. Both bouts took place in his home state of New York, though he’ll have to travel to the other side of the world for the welterweight title fight with Pacquioa, which headlines on HBO Pay-Per-View live from Macau, China.
If there’s been a downside to Algieri’s 2014 campaign, it was earlier this month when the World Boxing Organization (WBO) announced that the unbeaten Long Island boxer was to be stripped of his 140 lb. belt. Normally, such a decision doesn’t come until after the outcome of a fight in which the defending titlist is moving up in weight to challenge for another belt.
Conspiracy theories began to swirl, with some believing that the WBO was predicting an eventual move back down the scales for Pacquiao, and thus attempting to have a belt waiting for him if and when he makes that move. The Filipino icon and his team suggested earlier in the year that the 144 lb. catchweight in place for the Algieri fight was to test the waters to see if he can in fact squeeze back down to super lightweight, after having competed at welterweight for the past five years.
Whatever reason(s) the WBO had for making the move, it seems that the sanctioning body has come to its senses—or perhaps caved under pressure—and will allow Algieri to keep his belt at least through November 22.
“The decision from the WBO is now on hold,” Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum informed the media during a conference call held Tuesday to help promote the upcoming fight. “(WBO President Francisco) ‘Paco’ (Valcarcel) will be in Macau for the fight. If Chris beats Manny, all this is moot (Algieri will have to give up one of the two belts). A decision will probably be made after the fight.”
To his credit, Algieri couldn’t care less about the move—or anything else other than focusing on the best means to once again shock the world versus Pacquiao.
“I’m really only focused on what’s in front of me,” Algieri (20-0, 8KOs) insists. “It makes no difference to me (about being stripped) or to focus on the WBO title at this time. The only title that matters to me is winning the WBO welterweight title on November 22. If I can’t control a situation in front of me, then it doesn’t matter to me.”
Algieri’s title wouldn’t be on the line in the November 22 fight regardless, since the bout takes place above the 140 lb. limit.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox