MACAU (AP) – Boxing is a hurt business, as Manny Pacquiao found out when he ended up face down on the canvas after being knocked out just three fights ago by Juan Manuel Marquez.
It’s also a risky business, and there are some in the sport who believe Pacquiao is taking a big one when he gets up Sunday morning in this gambling enclave for his welterweight title fight with Chris Algieri.
The stakes are always high anytime Pacquiao fights. This, though, is a fight he must not only win but look good while doing so if there is to be any hope of a mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“A fifth- or sixth-round knockout would be perfect,” promoter Bob Arum said. “But who really knows?”
Pacquiao is a heavy favourite against Algieri, a New Yorker who seemingly came out of nowhere to get the fight. But Algieri poses problems for Pacquiao with both his height – he is a half head taller – and a left jab that he used to come back from two first-round knockdowns to beat hard-hitting Ruslan Provodnikov in his last bout.
Algieri is also unbeaten in 20 fights and extremely confident his boxing skills will allow him to prevail in a bout being fought at a catch weight of 144 pounds.
“When I look into the mirror I know I’ve done all the work necessary to win this fight,” said Algieri, who holds a master’s degree in clinical nutrition. “I’m sure that Manny realizes this will be a real fight.”
Algieri apparently didn’t do enough work, though, when he weighed in at 144.4 pounds Saturday morning to 143.8 for Pacquiao. Algieri worked off the weight and 50 minutes later came in at 143.6.
Pacquiao will make more than $20 million for the fight regardless of what happens, but an even bigger payday with Mayweather, a bout boxing fans have been clamouring for years. That would likely be out the window for good if Algieri somehow finds a way to win.
“I’m not predicting a knockout but I’m looking for a good fight and looking to prove I can still fight,” Pacquiao said. “I’m looking to maintain my speed and my power in this fight.”
Talk about a possible Mayweather fight heated up this week. Though Algieri is an attractive and articulate opponent who has done more than his share to sell the bout, the tantalizing possibility of a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight suddenly seems real again.
Arum said he has had talks with Les Moonves, the head of CBS Corp., to bring a previously reluctant Mayweather into the ring with Pacquiao next spring, and believes they could have a deal in place by the end of the year. Mayweather is under contract to the Showtime network, which CBS owns, for two more fights.
Algieri could ruin it all, though Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach believes his Cinderella story will end quickly when the two finally get into the ring Sunday.
“He (Algieri) doesn’t have the greatest chin in the world and we’re going to show that,” Roach said. “Manny has told me he will knock him out in one round. He won’t repeat that, but he has that kind of confidence in him. I feel great about this fight.”