MACAU – Manny Pacquiao, the reigning world welterweight champion, has one important reminder to those who will be watching his showdown against challenger Chris Algieri of New York on Sunday noon.
“Get (to) your seats early,” said the boxing great from the Philippines. “You don’t want to miss the fireworks.”
Finally drawing the line, Pacquiao set the tone for his 12-round match against Algieri in which his World Boxing Organization (WBO) title belt – won over Timothy Bradley last April - will be at stake.
Except for the challenger’s obvious advantage in height and in reach, just about everything is going Pacquiao’s way in his return to the Cotai Arena here where he successfully launched his career comeback almost a year ago with a beating of the badly-outclassed Brandon Rios.
And as Freddie Roach noted, the 5-foot-10 Algieri, although unbeaten in 20 fights (with eight KOs), is nowhere near the caliber of the gung-ho fighting Rios.
“I think this fight won’t be different than in our last fight here in China. I don’t think this guy is any better than Rios,” said Pacquiao’s long-time trainer.
Pacquiao (56-5-2, with 38 KOs) is a heavy 7-1 favorite to overwhelm his 30-year-old challenger, who shot to fame following his stunning 12-round split decision over fancied Ruslan Provodnikov – the one-time sparmate of the Pacman – to wrest the WBO junior welterweight crown five months ago.
The New Yorker from Huntington, however, has not been in a stage as big as this where he faces one of the greatest boxers of this era and stands to get the biggest prize purse of his career at $1.5 million.
“Let’s see how he reacts when he has his meeting with destiny,” said Pacquiao, the former Fighter of the Decade, who is guaranteed to get $23 million. “I’ve been here before. I know how I will react when the moment of truth comes.”
Cracks within the camp of Algieri began to show right on the day of the weigh-in when the challenger, who owns a bachelor's degree in health care science from Stony Brook University, failed to make the catch weight of 144 lbs. in his first two attempts at the scale. He finally tipped at 143.6 on the third try, but not after shedding off the excess pounds for almost an hour.
“The pressure is getting on him,” said Roach.
The handlers of Algieri however, are undaunted, and believe this so-called ‘Chris Algieri Show’ will be a big hit just like the one he had against Provodnikov, when he got up from two first-round knockdowns and survived a badly-swollen right eye.
“Chris Algieri, the new era of boxing, is going to show you who he is,” said Tim Lane, the former world kickboxing champion and trainer of Algieri. “He is going to be a master boxer. He is on top of his game. He is sharper than ever.”
Pacquiao, five years older than Algieri, came in at 143.8 lbs., exactly right where Roach wanted the eight-time world division champion to be right on the eve of the fight.
“My job is done. Manny is ready to fight, all the hard work is done. He (Pacquiao) feels good, he’s in a good place, and I’m very, very happy,” said Roach, who has been vocal enough about his desire for Pacquiao to knock Algieri out in the opening round.
“Genaro Rodriguez is the third man on the ring, while the three judges scoring the bout are Michael Pernick, Levi Martinez, and Patrick Morley.
Here is a video of the weigh-in that features interviews with Pacquiao and Algieri: