Freddie Roach had high praise for underdog Chris Algieri, who takes on The Fighting Congressman Manny Pacquiao Nov. 22 in Macau, when I asked what other pure boxer that Manny's faced Algieri reminded him of.
"I compare him to Oscar De La Hoya," Roach told me at the NYC presser today, which was held at a swank theater called the Liberty. "Good jab, good hook, not much of a right hand, has that height, maybe a little taller than Oscar. Not Oscar at his best, I'm not saying, but up 'n' coming Oscar."
That sort of high praise for Algieri (seen in Chris Farina pic, with Manny, above), who drew laughs when he came in with a band of ladies--I tagged them the Algieri-ettes--was perhaps the theme of the presser. "That's it, Chris?" I yelled with a wink, as he strode to his seat. "There's more on the way," he said, chuckling.
One high level executive told me he was beyond pleased how Algieri has performed in recent weeks, on the press tour, on 24/7, in interactions with all the fight game notables. The kid seems built for this, seems to soak it up, and appreciate it. Now, that doesn't necessarily translate into a win.
But Arum, even, seems taken with The Huntington Heartthrob, noting that the last fella he saw inspiring such pheremonal activation (I said "activation" in my Richard Schaefer voice, by the way) was, you guessed it, Oscar.
I spoke to Algieri for a good few minutes, and I can say the kid isn't cocky, but doesn't lack for confidence. He told me he knows Manny is a better boxer, much better, than the last guy he fought, Ruslan Provodnikov. "But I don't fear his power. He doesn't steamroll people. And a guy who can do that, Provodnikov, he didn't do that to me," he said.
"We'll box for little while, three four rounds, but I think at some point, when Manny wants the knockout, he'll get it," said Roach when I asked what strategies could be used on Nov. 22. "It's the first time I've really seen Manny even talk about a knockout. He kind of knows he needs one at this point, and I think moving down (to 144 pounds or less) to a lower weight class is going to be better for him, because he's never really been a 147. The only reason he moved down was to fight the big fights that came along. I think he'll be better at 140, there are better opponents at 140. But I think he'll knock this young kid out somewhere along the way."
I posed the KO question to Manny. Is he really craving it, or is Freddie doing his Arum thing, stirring up our imaginations, getting us craving that red KO meat? "I'm trying to do my best, the KO is in my mind. I'm thinking about a good fight," he said.
Maybe he likes this guy too much?
"Algieri is one of the nicest opponents I've had in my career. A gentleman, he's a professional."
And is it harder to try to KO someone when you like them? "I have to go in and do my job," he answered. "If I get the chance to finish him, why not?"
Manny also said he's happy to picture Algieri as a young Oscar. Why so? "That's how I don't get overconfident, that helps me focus on training. Has long jab, long, tall. He's taller than Oscar," Manny said.
I finished my grilling of Manny by asking when he's running for President of his nation. He's thinking Senate in 2016, and wouldn't promise anything beyond that. Skilled pol, indeed.
My take: As Freddie pointed out, Manny can shrink a ring a hundred times better than Ruslan. That'll make it real hard for the New Yorker to use his movement to as great an effect as he did June 14. Without a nasty right, it'll be harder for him to make Pacman back off. But I'm not betting against him. His chances are better if Manny doesn't want to train like a maniac or gets sidetracked with hoops or whatever. You'll hear people saying that boxing is as much as 90% mental. If that is so, that bodes well for Algieri. No part of him thinks he doesn't belong in with Pacman, and I didn't employ a polygraph, but I do think he damned well believes he will bring the WBO welter crown back with him to the Island. We...shall...see.
Your thoughts, friends?
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--- Photo Credit : Chris Farina - Top Rank