by Cliff Rold
Manny Pacquiao came into the ring to the tune of Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” Twelve rounds and six knockdowns later, he left still one of the king’s of his time.
Will we finally see the two Welterweight kings of recent time square off?
In a fight as one-sided as every skeptic anticipated, 35-year old Manny Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KO) of General Santos City, Cotabato del Sur in The Philippines, boxing’s first four-division lineal champion and eight-division titlist, made the first defense of his second reign as the WBO Welterweight beltholder with a unanimous decision over 30-year old WBO Jr. Welterweight titlist Chris Algieri (20-1, 8 KO) of Huntington, New York, on Sunday morning at the Cotai Arena in Macau, China. It was Pacquiao’s third straight dominant win since a knockout loss to rival Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012.
Throughout the week, chatter was elevated about an Algieri win possibly setting up the long awaited unification showdown between Pacquiao and lineal/WBC/WBA Welterweight Champion Floyd Mayweather. The Algieri win is secured. If the Mayweather fight is not, how much longer will the public care to watch what they saw on Saturday?
Reportedly receding pay-per-view numbers for both speak to that answer.
Pacquiao weighed in for the 144 lb. catchweight bout at 143 ½, Algieri at 143 ¾. The referee was Genaro Rodriguez.
Algieri came out flashing the left jab. Pacquiao replied with a straight left from his trademark southpaw stance. A right hook knocked Algieri off balance but didn’t hurt him. Algieri fired a right to the body but Pacquiao kept coming. Pacquiao landed a right to the body while Algieri landed a right to the head in the closing seconds of round one.
Showing swelling around the left eye, Algieri went down in the corner from a straight left that could also have been called a slip in the second minute of round two. Algieri took the count and went on without issue. Algieri moved and jabbed, eating a hard lead. Algieri offered little in the way of offense down the stretch.
The challenger came out right away with an overhand right to start the third. Making Pacquiao miss, Algieri kept Pacquiao at bay until the final minute. Pacquiao, firing in combination, found holes to secure the round.
Pacquiao stunned Algieri with a short right uppercut inside in the round four. Picking his spots, Pacquiao took some right hands and didn’t appear to care. Digging to the body, Pacquiao stalked his man with an eye on a violent finish.
Round five was better for Algieri, making Pacquiao miss and landing some quick counters. Algieri got a warning for low blows in round six and complained. He’d have more to worry about within moments. Exploding with a left, Pacquiao forced Algieri to the ropes and a follow-up barrage, while not landing, ended with Algieri on the floor. Algieri somersaulted backwards on the floor and beat the count, dropped again with a right in the corner shortly after.
After six, Algieri was badly behind and looked discouraged. He played more defense than offense through the next couple rounds, Pacquiao piling up points and easily winning the fight. In the ninth, Pacquiao landed a flush left down the pipe and Algieri went down hard. Algieri suffered another knockdown before the round was out, taking a knee under heavy fire near the ropes.
With three rounds to go, it was time to wonder when Algieri’s team should throw in the towel. Pacquiao scored another knockdown late in round ten and blasted away for much of the eleventh. Algieri kept getting off the stool, but there was no hope for victory and little reason to enjoy the proceedings.
Algieri could at least say at the end that he made it to the finish. Pacquiao couldn’t find the finishing touch in the eleventh or twelfth, settling for a comically wide unanimous decision at a shutout 120-102 and twin scores of 119-103. Pacquiao’s knockout drought extends to a full five years, the lone negative for the dominant victor.
“Tonight, I did my best,” Pacquiao stated in the ring after the fight. “I’m satisfied with my performance tonight.” Asked about not being able to secure the knockout, Pacquiao said, “I’m looking for a knockout, but he’s fast and moving.”
The topic turned to the only fight anyone really wants to see Pacquiao take in 2015. It’s the same fight they’ve wanted to see since 2009. Asked about Floyd Mayweather, Pacquiao joked in reference to a recent Foot Locker commercial (“He’s gonna fight me?”) before stating firmly, “I’m ready to fight next year for him.”
Next year is years too late. That doesn’t mean it isn’t time for the biggest fight of this era to finally take place. Anything less is a disgrace.
Algieri was candid in his post-fight remarks. “Manny is the best in the world at fighting like Manny Pacquiao,” he said. Asked if he thought he ever hurt Pacquiao, Algieri replied, “I think I caught him with a few thoughts that made him think.” Algieri disputed some of the knockdowns suffered and kept his head up. He’d survived a long night and has shown to be a brave, if limited, guy. Matched right, there is still plenty for Algieri to do in boxing and he retains his belt at 140 lbs.
It was a good night for the favorites on the card.
Continuing his adaptation to the professional ranks, 33-year old Flyweight Zou Shiming (6-0, 1 KO), 112, of Zunyi, China, boxed from the orthodox and southpaw stances, scoring four knockdowns to secure a unanimous decision over 33-year old Kwanpichit Onesongchaigym (27-1-2, 12 KO), 112, of Buriram, Thailand. Shiming built a big lead and weathered adversity, working through a cut and a swollen left eye in his first twelve round affair.
The referee was Danrex Tapdasan.
Sitting down on his shots and flashing world-class hand speed, Shiming dropped Onesongchaigym twice in round two and appeared to have him out on his feet as the bell clanged to end the round. Shiming continued to dominate his Thai foe as the rounds ticked by.
After several warnings, Onesongchaigym lost a point for low blows in round six. Shiming didn’t show any ill effects from what was a series of hooks below the belt line, addressing the fouls with a flurry to force Onesongchaigym to the ropes for the third official knockdown. Another point deduction came in round seven for low blows and Onesongchaigym faced a deep points deficit and flirtation with a disqualification.
Showing some fatigue, and throwing with less authority, Shiming took some heavy leather in round eight and suffered an accidental head butt that opened a cut over the left eye. The blood continued to run through rounds nine and ten but Shiming didn’t look bothered. Both men exchanged hammering rights in round ten, a brief burst of excitement in a bout that had fallen into a lull pattern.
Onesongchaigym caught Shiming with a booming haymaker in round eleven as he chased a miracle finish. Shiming took the shot and smiled as Onesongchaigym taunted, pointing to his chin and begging Shiming to engage. Boxing to get to the final bell, Shiming managed a final knockdown in the closing seconds. Onesongchaigym walked into a flush right and the two men’s feet got tangled. Shiming toppled forward on top. When he rose the count was issued to Onesongchaigym. The Thai beat the count and finished under fire along the ropes.
Final scores were academic at a shutout 120-103 and 119-106 twice, all for Shiming.
Shiming got a relatively late pro start after an excellent amateur career. Shiming was a three-time Olympian, winning Light Flyweight Gold at the 2008 and 2012 Games. Shiming also won World Amateur Championships in 2005, 2007, and 2009.
Shiming entered the bout rated by all four major sanctioning bodies: #7 by the WBC, #4 by the WBA, #11 by the IBF, and #5 by the WBO. Shiming has been rumored to be pursuing a shot in 2015 at IBF Flyweight titlist and former amateur rival Amnat Ruenroeng (14-0, 5 KO). Shiming defeated Ruenroeng in the semi-finals of the 2010 Asian Games.
26-year old WBO Featherweight titlist Vasyl Lomachenko (3-1, 1 KO), 126, of Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Ukraine, made his first successful defense of the title he won in June with a shutout of 29-year old Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (52-2, 33 KO), 126, of Chonburi, Thailand. Lomachenko scored a knockdown in round four and overcame an injured left hand in the second half of the fight. Lomachenko, who was 6-0 in the paid World Series of Boxing, could also be regarded as having a professional mark of 9-1 (1 KO).
The referee was Luis Pabon. The defeat marked Piriyapinyo’s first loss since a failed attempt at then-WBA Featherweight titlist in November 2012.
The southpaw Lomachenko brought the fight to Piriyapinyo from the opening bell, stunning him with a lead to the body halfway through the opening frame. The Thai challenger fired back at the body in the second but Lomachenko stayed a step ahead, boxing and circling. In the third, Lomachenko backed Piriyapinyo to the ropes and a brief firefight broke out. Lomachenko took the fight back to center ring and dominated the action, closing the third with a hard right hook to the head.
Body shots again stunned Piriyapinyo in round four. It was an uppercut that put him on the deck in the closing seconds of the round. The challenger got up and finished the round. He was rocked again in the first minute of round five, a straight left to the face wobbling him. Piriyapinyo stayed afoot through the remainder of rounds five and six, a trickle of blood coming from the nose.
In the seventh, Lomachenko appeared to hurt his left hand. He responded with a taunt and flurry. As the eighth got under way, Lomachenko was on his bicycle in a big way while the Thai battler gave chase. Using his right jab, Lomachenko still managed to contain Piriyapinyo but the challenger was pressing with more urgency.
Touching Piriyapinyo with the left, Piriyapinyo started to work the injured win back into his game in round nine. Down the stretch, Lomachenko maintained his edge and completed the shutout to three scores of 120-107.
Lomachenko ends his 2014 campaign 2-1 against a roster of opponents with a combined mark (when he faced them) of 116-13-2. As an amateur, Lomachenko was the 2006 World Jr. Champion at Flyweight, the 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist and 2009 World Champion at Featherweight, and the 2011 World and 2012 Olympic Champion at Lightweight.
In the pay-per-view broadcast opener, WBA ‘regular’ 140-lb. titlist Jessie Vargas (26-0, 9 KO), 140, of Las Vegas, Nevada, held off a game effort from former WBC Lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco (31-4-1, 23 KO), 139 ¼, of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, with a unanimous decision. There were no knockdowns in the contest. The referee was Luis Pabon.
After a slow start, action heated up in the middle of the fight as Vargas landed some hurting right hands. DeMarco rallied and both men wore swollen eyes, the southpaw DeMarco under both and Vargas under the left. Vargas had a small cut in the same spot from a clash of heads. Protecting a lead in the twelfth and final round, Vargas attempted to keep DeMarco at range. Throwing to the body and head and then moving from harm, Vargas kept DeMarco at bay to earn the decision. Final scores came in with unanimous agreement at 116-112.
The WBA “Super” Champion at 140 lbs. is Danny Garcia. Garcia, the lineal champion of the division, also holds the WBC and Ring Magazine titles at Jr. Welterweight and is recognized as the division’s champion by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
The card was broadcast in the US on HBO PPV, promoted by Top Rank Inc.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]