Well, it looks as if anyminute now the proposed and rumored fight between eight division title winner Manny Pacquiao 56-5-2 (38) and newly crowned junior welterweight title holder Chris Algieri 20-0 (8) will become officially official.
The last time we saw Pacquiao, he fought one of the most complete fights of his career in his rematch with Timothy Bradley 31-1 (12) this past April. As for Algieri, he's coming off the signature fight of his short career via a 12 round split decision upset over former junior welterweight title holder Ruslan Provodnikov 23-3 (16).
There are two things that stand out immediately regarding a Pacquiao-Algieri clash regarding both fighters. In the case of Pacquiao, 35, he’s been fighting virtually all the big names between 140-147 for the last six years. He doesn't have to fight the biggest and baddest every time out. As for Algieri, 30, there's literally no downside to him meeting Pacquiao, none. If he wins, he becomes an instant multi-millionaire and if he loses, he was supposed to.
The fight itself appears to be a mismatch but it's an interesting style clash. Algieri is 5'10" and has an inch longer reach than Mike Tyson did. He is not a big puncher nor does he have an illusion in his mind that he could stop Pacquiao, and he prefers doing his work on the move from outside. However, don't let that or his boy next door face mislead you into thinking he's not an extremely tough guy, because he is. Provodnikov really went after him early in their fight and was trying to take his head off. Yet, Algieri, knowing that due to his lack of power, he was going be in front of Ruslan for the duration of the fight, hung in there and stabilized the bout after looking unsure of himself at the onset. His height and length along with his determination and lateral movement should keep the fight with Pacquiao interesting for as long as it goes. Provodnikov is more aggressive and punches harder than Pacquiao, but Ruslan didn't do anything to make Chris have to think fast. Sure, he pressured him, but it was all predictable. Algieri gave a good account of himself handling it. But compared to Provodnikov, Pacquiao has a lot more speed, boxes better, and lands cleaner from unreadable angles.
Manny's nowhere near the fighter he once was, but Algieri is much greener than Brandon Rios, for example, and Rios had no clue how to handle Manny. Algieri is an exceptional athlete, and he's in tremendous condition, but he's a relative novice. I just don't see that this kid has ever seen anything that can prepare him for what Pacquiao is going to show him. It's probably way too soon for him, but he has to go through with the fight because short of fighting Floyd Mayweather, it's the next best way for him to parlay his upset win over Provodnikov.
When it comes to who Pacquiao fights, there's only one fighter around who he could meet that would satisfy everybody and that's Floyd Mayweather, but Floyd won’t take the fight. Almost nobody wants to see him fight Juan Manuel Marquez or nobody wants to see him meet Timothy Bradley again. Marcos Maidana, who just signed to fight a rematch with Mayweather, would be a fascinating opponent for Pacquiao to face, but that can't happen, at least not this year. Shawn Porter would be a credible opponent for Manny, but the risk-reward factor is terrible for Pacquiao. Danny Garcia would also be an interesting challenge for Pacquiao, but he really doesn't have the size, strength or punch to beat even a declining Manny. And from a style and mindset vantage point, he's tailor made for Pacquiao. Who does that leave for him to fight that could be considered "must see" aside from Mayweather? Oh, perhaps Mayweather wannabe Adrien Broner, but based on their last couple fights, Algieri has earned the shot at Pacquiao much more than Broner.
Pacquiao is 35 and his attacking style has chipped away and started to erode him as a fighter. He still believes he's going to fight Mayweather eventually and it's not a bad idea for him to try and save himself a little if he can. The reality is, other than making money, there are not many good options out there for him that satisfy the fans and meet his needs. But he has to remain relevant and keep his name out in front of the boxing public. Algieri is a good story and right now all boxing fans know who he is.
No, Pacquiao-Algieri shouldn't be a PPV fight nor should have Mayweather-Guerrero, but Manny's ego nor HBO's boxing brain-trust will allow him to be reduced to a subservient cable TV fighter. Think of the fun Mayweather would have with that? Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach, who is probably about as forthcoming as anyone is in boxing, has admitted that Manny doesn't like runners and movers. So there's a challenge. That and him not looking past a fighter who he knows can't hurt or beat him up. Prior to Algieri fighting Provodnikov, I think I would've flirted with picking Provodnikov over Pacquiao had they signed to fight. Well, Algieri, although it was very close, legitimately edged out Provodnikov and deserved the decision he won. And Algieri's style and ability to remain focused should provide Manny with a minor ulcer as long as the fight goes.
If you bought Mayweather vs. Guerrero, then you should buy Pacquiao vs. Algieri. Because Algieri has about the same chance to beat Pacquiao that Guerrero did to beat Mayweather......Pacquiao is allowed a throw-away fight and Algieri must go for it.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com