Algieri: ‘gift opponent’ or ‘spoiler’

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 Algieri makes the catchweight at 140.6 pounds on his third try at the official weigh-in on Saturday at the Cotai Arena in Macau

Algieri makes the catchweight at 140.6 pounds on his third try at the official weigh-in on Saturday at the Cotai Arena in Macau

When Chris Algieri steps into the ring in Macau today, he will be a massive underdog despite having an advantage in size and youthfulness against former pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao.

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And with a number of boxing pundits predicting a convincing if not a stoppage win by Pacquiao, Algieri fits the mold of a “gift opponent” who can make the Filipino look good in the ring. That will definitely be a plus factor to help forge a fight between Pacquiao and undefeated American Floyd Mayweather Jr.

While touted as an undefeated boxer with a background in kickboxing, Algieri’s only having eight knockouts in 20 wins puts doubt on whether he can put up a decent showing against the Filipino. But then, history has shown that gift opponents who were massive underdogs on fight night can pull off upsets, and Pacquiao and compatriot Nonito Donaire are among them.

Algieri’s most impressive fight so far is a split decision win over Ruslan Provodnikov on June 14. Getting up from two knockdowns in the first round, Algieri used his reach advantage and volume punching to keep the Russian at bay to eke out a split decision. One judge scored the fight at 109-117 for Provodnikov, while two judges had it 114-112 for Algieri.

But a probe of Algieri’s boxing record from boxrec.com shows that his knockouts were registered mostly over tomato cans and cream puffs who had won 50 percent or less than their bouts when they faced the lanky fighter.

A fighter named Rakeem Carter who Algieri knocked out in 2008 had no wins and three losses and three draws when he faced the American. Perhaps the most formidable opponent Algieri knocked out could be Winston Mathis, who touted a 7-4-1 record when he fought the American on March 31, 2012.

Looking at closely Algieri’s boxing resume, it is easy to conclude that the American fighter was picked to make Pacquiao look good in Macau, and there are boxing pundits even seeing a knockout win for Pacquiao that would make a fight with Mayweather more probable.

Spoiler
But boxing’s rich history has shown that massive underdogs cannot be written off completely as “gift opponents.” Pacquiao was even a gift opponent for Lehlo Ledwaba on June 23, 2001, but the Filipino mauled the African fight to register a stoppage in the sixth round. Pacquiao collared the International Boxing Federation (IBF) super bantamweight title by beating Ledwaba.

And on July 7, 2007, Donaire was a massive underdog when he faced then-feared knockout artist Vic Darchinyan. Donaire stopped Darchinyan with a vicious left hook also in the sixth round to claim the IBF and International Boxing Organization flyweight titles.

Question is: Does Algieri have what it takes to be a “spoiler” on fight night?
It may come as a surprise to some boxing fans that Algieri was once an undefeated kickboxer who registered 20 straight wins. So on fight night with Pacquiao, Algieri will actually be coming into the ring with 40 straight wins in the ring.

Also overlooked is Algieri’s high activity in the ring, particularly his jab. Based on a post from boxingscene.com, Algieri averaged 50 jabs per round in his last four fights before facing Provodnikov.

One odds maker website even saw Algieri pulling an upset over Provodnikov. The www.lootmeister.com odds maker website said in an article on the Provodnikov vs Algieri fight that the American’s chances “were not bad at all.”

“It’s not terribly difficult to envision Provodnikov catching Algieri in a corner and ripping his head off. It really isn’t. I just think there might be some good value here with Algieri and that his real chances are not all that bad. It will take a truly inspired performance, but at the right price. I’m prepared to go with Algieri,” the article stated.

Based on statistics from Sherdog.com complied by Joseph Santoliquito, Algieri threw 566 jabs against Provodnikov and connected 111, and landed more powershots or 177 of 427. On the other hand, Provodnikov landed 164 of 434 power shots.

“Algieri threw a total of 993 punches and landed 288 [29 percent] to Provodnikov’s 776 punches thrown and 205 connecting [26 percent]. Provodnikov connected on 41 of 341 jabs [12 percent], while Algieri landed 111 of 566 jabs [20 percent]. Algieri even outlanded Provodnikov in power punches: 177-427 [41 percent] to Provodnikov’s 164-434 [38 percent],” Santoliquito said in his article “Chris Algieri upsets Ruslan Provodnikov” posted at Sherdog.com.

From recent fights that were raved about for being competitive, it was the first Marcos Maidana vs. Mayweather fight that caught the attention of fight fans because the Argentinian threw 858 punches and landed 221 or 26 percent.

However, Maidana threw his 858 punches against Mayweather mostly moving forward, while Algieri threw his 993 punches against Provodnikov with much of it backpedaling.

The high volume of punches thrown by Algieri against Provodnikov shows how much stamina the younger American has coming into the fight with Pacquiao.

Algieri will not also be bothered by the “southpaw advantage” of Pacquiao, because the Filipino will be the eighth unorthodox fighter the American will face.

And going into the fight, it is hard to ignore that Pacquiao is no longer in his prime, and the last stoppage win of the Filipino was in November 2009, when he stopped in the last round Miguel Cotto.

But going into the fight, all the 30 fight analysts polled by The Ring Magazine online see a Pacquiao win either by wide decision or stoppage.

So if Algieri upsets Pacquiao, the American will literally turn the boxing world upside down.

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