For a boxing superstar whose pay-per-view numbers have been dwindling at an alarming rate, you’d think that Manny Pacquiao will take on a high-profile foe in his next ring outing to instantly rejuvenate his market value.
However, the latest buzz on the boxing grapevine is that Pacquiao is leaning on picking New Yorker Chris Algieri for his projected November defense of the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight (147 pounds) championship. The last time he was spotted in the squared circle, Algieri barely dodged opposite Russian mauler Ruslan Provodnikov. Algieri was knocked down twice in the first round and fought with a busted eye the rest of the way before hacking out a close split verdict over Provodnikov for the WBO junior welterweight (140 pounds) championship.
From the perspective of a boxing layman, a Pacquiao-Provodnikov brawl still makes for a palatable fistic menu than Pacquiao-Algieri. Styles make fights in boxing and Provodnikov’s aggressive approach figures to bring out the beast in Pacquiao’s belly. Algieri is cut up as a boxer, and Pacquiao’s recent duel with another slick boxer, American Timothy Bradley, did not really live up to pay-per-view expectations.
From where this writer sits, however, Pacquiao is taking the judicious approach with the end in view of reaping huge dividends in the end. While it remains a figment of the imagination, boxing fans continue to salivate for a showdown between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. There are reports brewing that with Mayweather’s pay-per-view numbers also dwindling, the two fighters might just get it on in the immediate future.
There is a need, however, for Pacquiao to stay in contention for the mega fight with Mayweather. Pacquiao almost blew the big fight when he got creamed in 6 rounds by Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez in December 2012. Fortunately for Pacquiao, he was able to resurrect his career and he now sits as the WBO welter king once more. Pacquiao obviously cannot take the same risk as he may not get another chance at resurrection.
Fighting the relatively unknown Algieri will not improve Paquiao’s pay-per-view numbers, but it will keep the prospect of the megabuck match with Mayweather alive. Pacquiao is actually adopting a businessman’s approach: He stands to lose a few million bucks against Algieri, but is looking at a financial bonanza opposite Mayweather.
Of Italian-Argentinian descent, Algieri offers a ledger of 20-0 with only 8 knockouts. He never fought as an amateur and converted to pro boxing after retiring from professional kickboxing with a 20-0 record. To his credit, Algieri was unbeaten as World Kickboxing champ.
The 30-year-old Algieri is tall at 5’11,” offers a pesky jab and a good, albeit telegraphed, right straight. Make no mistake, the guy is a poster boy; one who owns a bachelor’s degree in healthcare science and a master’s from the New York Institute of Technology. As a pro boxer, however, his skills are suspect. Algieri appears to have the punching power of an ant and his chin almost betrayed him against Provodnikov. The lack of quality opposition in Algieri’s record and his vulnerability to the left hook overall make him the ideal foe for Pacquiao at the moment.
By taking on another boxer in Algieri, Pacquiao is in a way honing up for Mayweather. The cocky Mayweather is actually doing the same thing, as he is booked to meet again Argentinean slugger Marcos Maidana.
Pacquiao is taking a gamble against Algieri, but it is a safe one that he hopes will reward him handsomely in the end.
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