What do the names Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Brandon Rios, and Timothy Bradley have in common? If you need more than a fleeting moment to answer that, you are not even a quasi-boxing fan. Those names represent Manny Pacquiao’s opponents in his last eight fights. He fought Marquez and Bradley twice each, and went 2-2 in those four bouts.
Not only have the six fighters listed above shared the ring with Pacquiao, every one of them went the distance with Manny and Marquez stopped him. Pacquiao hasn’t won by stoppage since he TKO’d Miguel Cotto on November 14, 2009. That’s five years and one week. Granted all six of the fighters mentioned have an upper-tier beard, but only Marquez was really shook and looked unsteady before he knocked Pacqioao out with a counter right hand in their last meeting.
This weekend Pacquiao 56-5-2 (38) will fight New York’s Chris Algieri 20-0 (8) in a 144 pound catchweight bout. Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight title will be on the line. Most see Algieri as a sacrificial lamb because of his lack of experience. He’s also not much of a puncher and other than his reach and toughness, isn’t expected to go the distance with Manny like his six past opponents have. It’s been mentioned how Algieri’s height and reach will present Pacquiao some difficulty. Algieri is 5′ 11″ and for a guy weighing 144 pounds has a reach one inch longer than Mike Tyson’s and only one inch shorter than Joe Frazier’s. Algieri’s 72 inch reach is something he’ll have to utilize if he is to have a remote chance of beating Pacquiao.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m having a real hard time getting enthused about this fight and even Pacquiao lately. I love and respect him and all that he’s accomplished as a fighter, but at this point, I’ve seen everything he has to offer competitively. But his electrifying performances against David Diaz, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto seem so long ago. Manny used to thrill viewers with his with non-stop aggression and volume punching from Aaron Pryor-esque angles on his way to stoppage wins. Sure, Clottey, Margarito and Mosley were all bigger than him and expecting Manny to walk through them wasn’t realistic. But Marquez, Bradley and Rios aren’t noticeably bigger than him.
Pacquiao is wrongly held to a higher standard than Floyd Mayweather by boxing fans and media, but that’s the way it is. And the reason for that is because of the contrast in their fighting styles, and it’s easy to fall into that trap. No one watches Floyd hoping to see him win by stoppage or put somebody away like Sugar Ray Leonard did on some of the halcyon nights of his early career. When they watch Mayweather, they expect to see clean punching and defense, and for the most part he has delivered. Floyd has only scored one stoppage win since 2009, and that occurred when Victor Ortiz foolishly looked to the referee with his hands down and Mayweather nailed him with a legal and perfectly placed left-hook to the chin.
However, Pacquiao is a different story. His persona has been forged on speed and power with many of his fights ending dramatically and memorably. Public interest has dissipated some and his promoter Bob Arum knows it. Arum’s job is to keep the public’s interest in Manny until he fights Mayweather. Notice the rumors circulating about how Pacquiao may fight Amir Khan next or how he may go back down to lightweight.
Algieri is a beginner and Manny is a seasoned pro. On paper Pacquiao should take Chris apart and beat him convincingly. Manny and trainer Freddie Roach want a knockout in this fight in the worst way possible, with the hope being a memorable showing will have fans talking about how he’s again one of the best fighters in boxing. I’m not so sure that he’ll win that decidedly, but if he does, the interest in Pacquiao will escalate again. The talk will be that he’s hungry and is the fighter to hand Mayweather his first loss. But the reality is Pacquiao has regressed more than a little. This bout was made to create the illusion that he hasn’t. I don’t think this fight will tell us anything about where Pacquiao truly is, as Algieri was brought in to make Manny look like a killer.
Actually, there is more pressure on Pacquiao in this fight than most realize. The fact that he is supposed to beat up and bust up Algieri more than Provodnikov did is an added burden that he’s carrying. Wining isn’t enough. He must shine and resemble the offensive machine he once was. If he does get the intended sensational knockout, most will be awed and impressed. Then again, there will be those who will say that’s what he should do against an inexperienced fighter like Algieri.
Win or lose this weekend against Chris Algieri, Pacquiao’s career will continue. If the unthinkable happens like it did the first time he fought Timothy Bradley, he’ll still get the fight with Mayweather. In fact, losing to Algieri would virtually guarantee it. Nothing will derail Mayweather-Pacquiao, with only one exception, and that is if Mayweather loses before they fight, and that’s highly unlikely.
As for what will happen this weekend when Pacquiao and Algieri finally touch gloves, I have a feeling that Algieri is going to put up a good fight for however long it lasts but he will not win. If Manny wins in an impressive fashion, which he desperately needs to, the drumbeat for him and Floyd to fight will get louder. If he struggles but wins, it’ll be quiet for awhile until Mayweather fights again. And if Algieri upsets Pacquiao, Mayweather’s next opponent has been created. Yes, Mayweather-Algieri will be very easy to sell and hype if Chris beats Manny. And finally, after Mayweather decisions Algieri, he’ll fight Pacquiao and the biggest faux super fight in history will be realized.
The best scenario for the immediate future is this: Manny must shock and amaze the boxing public and defeat Chris Algieri decisively.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com