When they win, they win as a team. When they lose, well, all portions of the team get examined, with a proctologists’ thoroughness. As it was immediately after Chris Algieri proved to be too inexperienced for Manny Pacquiao on Nov. 22 in Macau.
What went wrong? And who is to blame? Fingers get pointed, tongues wag…and oftentimes, but of course, the head trainer gets a turn under the bright lights, for a session of the third degree.
Trainer Tim Lane got the treatment on social media as the bout progressed and in days after the scrap, which saw the Long Islander Algieri, whom he has known for 15 years, hit the deck six times. The treatment stemmed much from an exchange Lane had in round nine with Max Kellerman of HBO, who picked the tutor’s brain, and then was “rewarded” with a stunning twist of fate. Lane was telling Max that he was going to let his fighter out of his “cage,” turn him lose on The Congressman and just then, bang, a left hand sent the New Yorker on his tucchus. It was a jaw dropper moment, and not in a good way.
I talked to Lane on Saturday, a couple hours before HBO was to show the Pacquiao UD12 victory over the former kickboxer and future medical school student, who impressed so many with his unwavering confidence and willingness to promote the PPV clash in Macau. The trainer had arrived back in Vegas, his home, after spending Thanksgiving in Chicago, at his galpals’ place. He joked with me, when I asked him who I thought cooked a better feast, his lady and her crew, or Algieri, who has a way in the kitchen. “It’s a tossup,” Lane said. “Both, I’m sure, were great.”
Yeah, the trainer wasn’t all glum and sullen, and his overall message was that Algieri will be back, and that the showing in Macau had more to do with Pacman being in A game mode than anything else. Nope, he wasn’t battling Twitter morons who were coming up with cage memes, and seems to be dealing with the buzz in fine form.
“I wasn’t sure what was going on with (that “I still got him in the cage” soundbite situation) until later that night, when I went on Facebook, and saw some stuff. There’s still a lot of hating …but I live in the moment. I mean, I’m a red-headed step-child, who was born in Germany! I can handle this stuff. It doesn’t hurt.” Of the cage cracks, he said, “It is what it is.”
I told him I think it’s important to lean into such humorous occurrences, steer into the skid, as it were, be part of the joke. “Right..but I won’t laugh about it, because that was my boy getting hit. I’m not hating on anybody (who’s talking smack or Tweeting cage jokes). Whatever they say, that’s on them.”
He hadn’t yet watched the scrap on TV, and in fact, doesn’t get HBO, he told me. But he will snag the fight, and dissect it pretty soon, so he can figure out what could have gone better. “Being there was enough. But I will wait a couple days, and go over it,” he said.
He doesn’t second guess the gameplan, the strategy to down the Filipino icon, he told me. “I’m not a what if guy,” he said. “I’m comfortable with the strategy…Manny is a great fighter, and I didn’t think he’d come like that.” I told Lane, and fully feel this way, that on too many occasions fans and writers like to tear down and hammer the performance of the loser, rather than give full-on credit to the winner. That’s just the age we live in, and maybe has always been our human nature…I think there’s a large element of that going on as we examine this bout.
Lane told me he fully expects to be front and center for what he is certain will be Algieri’s return to the form he showed after the first round against Ruslan Provodnikov, in June. “Chris will be my brother the rest of my life,” Lane said. “I believe the team will stay intact. We know what we have to work on. Chris didn’t have the experience. And sometimes experience shows. I truly believed, if Manny wasn’t on his A game, we would have beaten him. We will keep this team together. And if there’s a change, we will speak about it together. I’ve been with Chris for 15 years, and we’ll be brothers to the end. Chris Algieri is a champion, who lives a champion lifestyle inside and outside the ring. We haven’t seen the last of him. Chris is the best student I’ve ever seen. And he learned more that night than any fighter could on any one night.”
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