LAST time we checked, the pay-per-view numbers of World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao have considerably dwindled, leading many to wonder if the Filipino ring icon’s punch still packs a crunch at the box-office.
With Pacquiao’s star power in question, not a few suggested a marquee opponent for his next ring outing to boost his stock. Initially, the names Juan Manuel Marquez and Amir Khan were mentioned, but in the end Pacquiao settled for New Yorker Chris Algieri – a guy who is not even a household name in his own household. Top Rank Promotions head honcho Bob Arum recently confirmed that Pacquiao will defend his welterweight (147 pounds) crown against Algieri, the incumbent WBO junior welterweight (140 pounds) titleholder, on November 22 in Macau.
Box-office wise, the fight is likely to create as much noise as a deaf-mute congregation. If the fight is for the “Poster Boy” championship of the world, Pacquiao-Algieri will merit attention. Algieri holds a Masters Degree in nutrition and dreams of one day becoming a doctor while everybody is already familiar with Pacquiao’s doghouse-to-penthouse story. However, we are talking here of a boxing match and not a Mr. Dream Boy contest. Strictly on fistic merit, the fight doesn’t make the grade.
From where this writer sits, Pacquiao is adopting a business approach in picking Algieri. While it remains a figment of the imagination, boxing fans continue to salivate for a showdown between Pacquiao and American Floyd Mayweather Jr. There are reports that with Mayweather Jr.'s pay-per-view numbers also dwindling, the two fighters might just get it on in the immediate future. There is a need, however, for Pacquiao to stay in contention for the megabuck match. Pacquiao almost blew the big fight when he got poleaxed in six rounds by Marquez in December 2012.
Fortunately for Pacquiao, he was able to bounce back and now sits as the WBO welter king once more. Pacquiao cannot take the same risk as he may not get another chance at resurrection. This is where Algieri comes in as he is less of a party-spoiler than Marquez. Pacquiao may end up losing a few million bucks in terms of pay-per-view money on the Algieri fight, but he stands to reap huge dividends if he stays on course for the big money fight against Mayweather Jr.
The last time he was in the squared circle, Algieri barely dodged defeat with a controversial split-decision win over Ruslan Provodnikov for the WBO junior welter plum. Algieri was knocked down twice in the first round and fought the rest of the way with one good eye. To his credit, Algieri was able to outbox the one-dimensional Provodnikov to secure the decision.
Of Italian-Argentinian descent, Algieri offers a record of 20-0 with only eight knockouts. He never fought as an amateur and converted to pro boxing after retiring from professional kickboxing with a 20-0 record. The 30-year-old Algieri is tall at 5-11, offers a pesky jab and a good, albeit telegraphed, right straight. He is, however, a sucker for the left hook and his defense leaves plenty to be desired. The lack of quality opposition in Algieri’s resume and his vulnerability to the left punch overall make him tailor-made for Pacquiao.
By taking on another boxer in Algieri, Pacquiao is in a way preparing for Mayweather Jr. The cocky Mayweather Jr. is actually doing the same thing, as he is set to meet in a September rematch Argentinean slugger Marcos Maidana. In sum, Pacquiao is taking a gamble in selecting Algieri and his followers can only hope that the move will not backfire.