by Cliff Rold
It’s been awhile since a pay-per-view star has used the medium to face such an unfamiliar face. Maybe the last time was Oscar De La Hoya-Felix Sturm?
It’s been awhile.
Unlike Sturm, Chris Algieri is American, has been seen on US airwaves, and has been marketed hard to casual audiences where hardcore skeptics abound. There is also, unlike the case for De La Hoya, no looming superfight.
Oh, sure, there is always the tease of a fight between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. Boxing’s longest running set of blue balls shouldn’t be considered close to relief just because there is the latest rash of chatter. When the fight everyone wants is the one seemingly they can never have, this is where it ends up.
What Algieri could do is put a fork in the conversation. Can Chris Algieri play the same kind of spoiler role Sturm (almost) did a decade ago?
Let’s go the report card.
Current Titles: WBO Welterweight (2014-Present, 0 Defenses)
Previous Titles: Lineal/WBC World Flyweight 1998-99, 1 Defense; IBF Super Bantamweight 2001-03, 4 Defenses; Lineal/Ring World Featherweight 2003-05, 2 Defenses; Lineal/Ring/WBC World Jr. Lightweight 2008; WBC Lightweight 2008-09; IBO/Lineal/Ring World Jr. Welterweight 2009-10; WBC Light Middleweight 2010; WBO Welterweight, 2009-12, 3 Defenses
Height: 5’6 ½
Hails from: General Santos City, Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
Record: 56-5-2, 38 KO, 3 KOBY
Rankings: #1 (BoxingScene, Ring); #2 (ESPN, TBRB, BoxRec)
Record in Major Title Fights: 17-2-2, 11 KO, 1 KOBY (including Lineal title Fights)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 18 (Chatchai Sasakul KO8; Medgoen Singsurat TKO3; Lehlo Ledwaba KO6; Agapito Sanchez Tech. Draw 6; Jorge Eliecer Julio TKO2; Marco Antonio Barrera TKO11, UD12; Juan Manuel Marquez D12, SD12, MD12, KO by 6; Erik Morales L12, TKO10, KO3; Oscar Larios UD12; David Diaz TKO9; Oscar De La Hoya RTD8; Ricky Hatton KO2; Miguel Cotto TKO12; Joshua Clottey UD12; Antonio Margarito UD12; Shane Mosley UD12; Timothy Bradley L12, UD12; Brandon Rios UD12)
Current: WBO Jr. Welterweight (2014-Present, 0 Defenses)
Previous Titles: None
Hails From: Huntington, New York
Record: 20-0, 8 KO
Rankings: #2 at 140 (BoxingScene); #3 at 140 (Ring, TBRB) ; #4 at 140 (ESPN) ; #7 at 140 (BoxRec)
Record in Major Title Fights: 1-0
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 1 (Ruslan Provodnikov SD12)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Pacquiao A-; Algieri B+
Pre-Fight: Power – Pacquiao A; Algieri C+
Pre-Fight: Defense – Pacquiao B; Algieri B-
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Pacquiao A; Algieri B+
The biggest disparity in this fight for many will be in experience level. Pacquiao is a historically proven fighter coming off his best official win, the rematch victory over Bradley, since a 2009 win over Miguel Cotto. Algieri has come from prospect to contender to titlist just this year.
Algieri is a good fighter. We’ve seen that much. He nearly shut out Emanuel Taylor to start his 2014 campaign. The same Taylor gave Adrien Broner everything he could handle later in the year. There is still debate about the rightful winner of Algieri’s 140 lb. title win over Ruslan Provodnikov. This corner scored it 6-6, with a two point final edge to Provodnikov based on first round knockdowns.
Algieri never went down again and showed some sound boxing over the next eleven rounds. While never having shown notable power (one stoppage in his last six starts), Algieri has quick hands and stands several inches taller than Pacquiao. He’s a style problem Pacquiao hasn’t faced before, a mover with Welterweight-sized range.
Even giving up height and reach, Pacquiao appears, even at 35, still the quicker of the two. Against Bradley in April, Pacquiao’s learned feet were still on display. While he hasn’t scored a knockout since the Cotto fight, the evidence suggests Pacquiao can still hurt larger men.
The slower, less well-rounded Provodnikov found Algieri all night. It wasn’t consistent, but in many rounds after the first he was able to get close and land blockbuster blows that had Algieri reeling. Pacquiao might not be the same sort of blunt instrument Provodnikov is, but his speed makes him harder to see coming.
If he gets Algieri is trouble, Pacquiao has the speed to multiply the effect in streams of offense.
For Algieri to win, he’s going to have to go on the road in Macau, a veritable home turf for Pacquiao, and win a decision. Barring a freak cut, he won’t score a stoppage or even come close. The benefit of the doubt he may have received in some close rounds against Provodnikov in New York probably doesn’t work in China. He has to win rounds clean and clear.
He has to do that in at least seven frames and stay off the floor.
It’s a tall order.
This could be like Algieri-Provodnikov fight in spots with Algieri moving a lot. Where it will be different is that Pacquiao’s footwork is much better than Provodnikov’s and he’ll close the gap more often. Provodnikov probably should have received the nod earlier this year based on impactful punches landed. The quicker, more skilled Pacquiao should eliminate room for doubt in the scoring with impact and greater volume. It would be no shock if Pacquiao takes this over after the first few rounds and gets his first stoppage in almost five years.
Report Card Picks 2014: 53-22
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]