HBO unspooled their Manny Pacquiao-Chris Algieri 24/7, and it got off to an amusing start, as we saw video and heard flubs from folks mis-pronouncing “Pacquiao.”
We saw him take out Lehlo Ledwaba (2001), back when he had bleach blonde hair and an unpronounceable name, and De La Hoya, and then saw the face of a new kid on the block, someone as well known as Manny early on, Chris Algieri.
“They both know that in boxing, one bout can change the course of a story forever,” narrator Liev Schrieber said. Indeed…
Freddie Roach laments that this isn’t 2001; today, hoops and politics take time from boxing. We see Manny talking to school kids, telling them to study hard, and then hit his gym in the Philippines. Roach says he’s happy that Manny has speed, power, is explosive; “I’m really pleased with it.”
Wife Jinkee says that Manny is busy busy. They have six kids together, and she says he loves having so many people around him.
On Long Island, we see the Algieri house, where Chris lives in mom and dad’s basement. He just got a TV in his place six months ago, he shares.
The hitter is seen cooking. Eggs and toast and avocado is on the menu most days. Kid’s middle name is Haas?…His dad is seen, and we hear that dad built the house. His bro, wife, and three sons are also in the crowded (?) house, he says.
The fighter graduated high school, went to Stony Brook U. and did pro kickboxing. He was champ in two weight classes, and then moved to boxer to snag bigger paydays and fame, he said. He fought on small cards for six years, and he said that was frustrating. Opportunity knocked in Brooklyn, at Barclays Center, he said. “Leading up to the Provodnikov fight I was going to get decapitated, that was what Twitter said,” he cracked.
We saw video of his trips to the mat against Provodnikov last June, and then his comeback. He did it with one eye, let’s not forget.
Back in Manny-land, the hitter is hired as coach for the Kia team in their pro hoops league. Roach says he hopes Manny doesn’t get hurt. “Does he belong there, no? But he’s so popular,” the trainer said.
Manny starts at point guard, and plays seven minutes in the opener. He has no points and two turnovers. The Sorrentos win the game, and Pacman thanks the fans.
In NY, Algieri goes to Stony Brook homecoming. It was “Chris Algieri Day,” he said. He drives around in a beater, a Honda accord with almost 200,000 miles on it.
We see him work out like a maniac, a crazed pace. He’s up five pounds of muscle, with the same body fat, we hear. The catchweight of 144 pounds will be the lowest for Manny in two plus years.
We see Manny’s weight loss challenge, and see Temptation Night. Anyone having a bite of a treat is disqualified. The winner gets $10,000, and $1,100 goes to anyone losing ten percent of their body weight.
At the gym, Pacman says he’s taking Algieri seriously. Freddie says that Algieri runs, and doesn’t want to engage, but he is “in way over his head” and Manny will catch him. “He’s a tough kid, I will give him that, but tough kids don’t win big fights.”
Algieri cooks for himself at his camp at the Venetian in Vegas, and then we see him work out. He says he’s not been overwhelmed, and has in fact has plotted out what this experience might look like in his head for years.
He does a 12 minute ice bath, to reduce swelling, and that helps test his mind strength.
Both men say they love boxing, but what will separate them on Nov. 22? Talent? Age? Fire? Will? Single-mindedness? “I’ve see myself on this stage for years, I’m going to step up and make something special happen,” says Algieri, in closing.
Anyone believing a bit better in the chances of a man who seems as sure of himself as any athlete we’ve seen in recent memory?