Filipino ring icon Manny Pacquiao returns to the ring Sunday to defend his World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight title against American challenger Chris Algieri at the Cotai Arena in Macau. While the fight has been receiving a lukewarm reception in the United States, what with the prevailing belief that Algieri is coming in way over his head, the fight has been reaping attention in Macau where Pacquiao and Algieri have earned their share of followers.
Pacquiao, 35, is coming in with tons of championship experience. The 8-division champ has figured in 22 world title fights (winning 17, losing 3, and settling for a draw twice) while Algieri has logged in only 20 pro fights overall. Algieri is actually figuring in only his 2nd world title fight. In his first world title fight, Algieri recovered from two first-round knockouts to outpoint Russian Ruslan Provodnikov in June for the WBO jr. welterweight title.
Pacquiao and Algieri are both mired in a knockout drought. Pacquiao has not scored a knockout since 2009, when he stopped Miguel Cotto for the WBO welterweight crown. The last conclusive knockout victory Algieri recorded was in March 2012, when he stopped journeyman Winston Mathis in 3 rounds.
Algieri will receive a major upgrade in terms of fight purse. Believe it or not, some 9 months ago, he was just earning in the vicinity of $15,000 per fight. He received $100,000 for the Provodnikov fight and stands to earn $1 million for the Pacquiao fight.
The fight with Pacquiao is only the second time Algieri is figuring in a 12-round bout. It was not until last year when Algieri started fighting 10-rounders. In his first 12-round bout, Algieri went the distance against Provodnikov. As recently as September 2013, Algieri was still fighting 8-rounders.
Algieri is a multi-sport athlete. In his younger years, he tried football and swimming but failed to make the cut on his chosen teams. In high school, he wrestled at 138 pounds in his senior year. In college, he ventured into kickboxing. Algieri was never defeated as a kickboxer and retired in 2007 at age 23 to devote his full attention to boxing.
While listed as a right-hander or orthodox fighter, Algieri is actually ambidextrous. He can easily switch stances during the fight.
Algieri is known for being frugal with his earnings. When he earned a then career-high $100,000 against Provodnikov, the first thing he did was pay off his student loan. Algieri, who is still single, lives with his parents in their home built in 1976. Algieri still drives around the neighborhood in a 2001 Honda Accord that has already accumulated over 190,000 miles.
In 2010, Algieri earned a Master’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York Institute of Technology. Before the big payday against Pacquiao, Algieri moonlighted as a conditioning coach to earn extra money.
Pacquiao’s last 14 opponents have been either reigning or former world champions, guys like Timothy Bradley, Brandon Rios, Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito, Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto and David Diaz. Pacquiao’s last opponent with no world title in his resume was Mexican Jorge Solis, a budding contender back when he was stopped by Pacquiao in 8 rounds in 2007. Overall, Pacquiao has faced 25 former or current world champions and his record against them stands at 19 wins, 4 losses, 2 draws and 10 knockouts. In stark contrast, Algieri’s only opponent with a world title in his resume was Provodnikov.