Well, folks, it just so happens that up and coming undefeated prospect Chris Algieri won the lottery when he was chosen for Manny Pacquiao‘s 2nd Macao appearance at the Venetian come Saturday, November 22nd. This may be the biggest Chinese promotion yet since Pacquiao appears to have surmounted his previous setbacks with another P4P performance against fellow P4Per Timothy Bradley. In short, it’s Manny rising in the East over shining Pacific waters as it should be in this part of the world.
Some great up and coming names on undercard with Chinese Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming, 5-0, 1 KO, taking another big step up the rung as he fights a WBO title eliminator against an undefeated Thai, Kwanpichit OnesongchaiGym, 27-0-2, 12 KO. Then with gold medals oozing out of his every pore, Vasyl Lomachenko, 2-1, 1KO makes his first title defense against a prime age hungry Thai, Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, 52-1, 33 KO that promises to be all action.
Chris Algieri was nary a whisper for any big fight until he recently upset Siberian slugger Ruslan Provodnikov in Algieri’s home evirons of New York, New York via highly controversial split decision, so look at him sitting pretty now. Of course “Boxing” had to shoot itself in the foot for the umpteen billionth time again to pull off this matchup. Algieri won two of the judges’ cards close to give him the split decision whereas Provodnikov won one card wide as well as the significant majority of total points scored and rounds. That boxing scoring can have so many offsetting numbers like this naturally sets off fans in a rabid, frothing frenzy of accusations of robbery, legitimate grievous perceptions due to inane officiating protocols, proof positive that boxing needs a major overhaul, not that a major overhaul would solve their Three Blind Mice White Stick Dart Throwing scoring woes. These ABC and commish honchos will never be confused by far sighted, innovative, original thinking processes, but rather more act out as a gaggle of ol’ gits milking a corrupt system they inherited to maximize their power while expanding their pockets and porcine waistlines.
At any rate, after Algieri rose from one early nuclear detonation to quickly take a knee for his 2nd knockdown, he summoned up amazing powers of recovery to put up one helluva fight on his back foot. A slugger like Provodnikov seldom looks good when he has to chase, aw hell, lets just say what it is: nobody ever looked good having to chase down chickens, yet for some reason only sluggers are required to do so as opposed to light hitting boxer types who get a pass for their lack of killer power and instinct and have to rely on running. The bias of not meeting knockout expectations held against sluggers in boxing has always existed, even more so now that pure running strangely counts as “good defense” in the unspoken rule book used in the modern era of watered down boxing.
Since Algieri benefited at the expense of the Freddie Roach trained Provodnikov, Pacquiao and Roach will have the revenge angle for this promotion that leverages Algieri’s telegenic Gentleman Quarterly good looks and advanced education that he acquired in New York to lure in the higher order Chinese and Western populations for the fight. In that vein, Algieri can be seen a modern day welter version of Gene Tunney, the tall, handsome, urbane New York based heavyweight stylist of his day. Perhaps also praise worthy is the interesting balance between Algieri’s perfect 20-0 boxing record and 20-0 kickboxing record where he competed as a welter/junior middle with a pair of titles to prove his acumen. It’s a sign of the times that both Algieri and Pacquiao have martial arts training before launching boxing careers.
So, Algieri has significant height and reach to go with youthful low mileage and zest, all combined with a pure box and move style to trouble even Pacquiao on his best day. Alas, Pacquiao’s best fighting days are behind him as he lives on the edge as a modern Renaissance man with his substantial political career, movies, women, and songs competing with his newest interest. He was recently announced as the coach of a new Philippine Basketball Association’s expansion team, but wait, there’s more. Manny promptly drafted himself to play point guard, I kid you not.
You can bet that Uncle Bob went full apoplectic over that news as the ongoing Manny soap opera has enough material for many more episodes to keep his bowels bubbling for at least a couple of more years. Of course I still expect Pacquiao to prevail over Agieri, likely concussively, but he may well be put through his paces early on unless Algieri gets caught again early as he did in the Provodnikov fight. Manny doubtless would be quicker to jump on him for the knockout, but I’d imagine Algieri starts superdefensive to put that scenario out of play.
Disclaimer: Flash to the first Bradley fight as case in point. If Algeiri manages to hang on to the end like Bradley did the first Pacquiao fight, than he “exceeds” expectations and might cop another disputed decision to become the newest boxing media geegaw if you want to contemplate how that might work.
Seeing is believing, so boxing fans and curious Chinese will doubtless be out in substantial numbers to check it out as Arum looks to further leverage the internet PPV market in this two billion Asian viewer godsend. Speaking of these new found opportunities, there’s much ado by the mainstream fans and press over Manny’s recent relatively low PPV numbers. That’s not surprising they don’t seem to understand that Macao promotions will at least for now not garner large American PPV numbers modern boxing fans tend to obsess over more than the fights. Most Americans are put off by anything foreign and don’t understand Manny is no longer dependent on Vegas or American PPVs. He’s as international a fighter as it gets and he’s getting the exploding market of Asian highrollers into the casinos for record business that easily tops Vegas which is losing money, something like 6X the slumping Vegas revenues. If anything Manny is getting underpaid with his usual $25 million or so purse, but that ain’t why he’s fighting there. They love him in Macao. Though he’s not burning down any bridges to Vegas either, they completely disrespected Pacquiao and Tim Bradley in their rematch by simultaneously elevating the Mayweather/Maidana rematch over their fight even as that bout was 2 weeks later.
However, just as in boxing, timing is also everything in life. China has only recently started to crack down on the shady going-ons at Macau emblematic of the new Chinese highrollers with hundreds of millions to spend not on just gambling, but on luxury goods that can be laundered through a cash back option that bypasses strict Chinese monetary controls over moving money overseas.
That’s the political and financial backdrop going into this fight, but regardless, Pacquiao better be focused come fight night. Algieri is no mug and figures this is his time and this coming Saturday will be the time for us to find out.