Monday, November 24, 2014

Pacquiao Dominates Algieri, Is A Fight With Mayweather Next?

The WBO world Welterweight championship fight between WBO champion and future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao and undefeated WBO Jr. Welterweight champion Chris Algieri presented an interesting tactical matchup between two world-class fighters. Could Algieri who was able to overcome adversity earlier this year in his fight with Ruslan Provodnikov to win his Jr. Welterweight championship defy the odds once again by dethroning one of the all-time greats in the sport? With some treating this fight as an afterthought, would Manny Pacquiao underestimate Chris Algieri?

All questions were answered when the two champions entered the ring on November 22nd at the Cotai Arena at the Venetian Resort in Macau, China. As I stated prior to this fight the key in my eyes was whether or not Chris Algieri would be able to neutralize Pacquiao’s speed and lateral movement. Although Algieri is a slick boxer with good lateral movement and quick hands in his own right, Pacquiao’s ability use lateral movement and throw punches from multiple angles would pose a challenge that would be difficult for even a highly skilled boxer such as Algieri to overcome.

Despite having an advantage in both height and reach over Pacquiao, Algieri was not able to keep Pacquiao from coming forward. Pacquiao’s ability to come forward and let his hands go in spurts, often landing punches in combination was the story of this fight to a large extent in addition to having an advantage in terms of overall hand speed and lateral movement over Algieri.

Although he could not prevent Pacquiao from being able to cut the ring off, Algieri was successful in being able to use his lateral movement and was occasionally successful in landing straight right hands and left hooks on Pacquiao, but those punches did not have the power to discourage Pacquiao from coming forward. The fight was highlighted by Pacquiao being able to score six knockdowns throughout the course of the fight. The first of the knockdowns came in round two when Algieri slipped on wet canvas in Pacquiao’s corner as Pacquiao came forward with offense. Despite being able to block Pacquiao’s punches in this instance, the slip was ruled a knockdown by Referee Geno Rodriguez.

A left hand from Pacquiao would send Algieri to the canvas for a second time in round six. A follow-up barrage by Pacquiao sent Algieri to the canvas for the third time moments later, although as was the case when Algieri was first knocked down in round two, it seemed that the knockdown was caused by more of a slip than a punch as Algieri once again slipped due to excess water on the canvas in Pacquiao’s corner.

Algieri would be knocked down for the fourth time in the fight by a straight left hand in round nine. This knockdown seemed to be the first in which Algieri was legitimately hurt and another follow-up barrage from Pacquiao caused Algieri to take a knee seconds later for the fifth knockdown of the fight. A combination from Pacquiao knocked Algieri down to the canvas for the sixth time in the fight in round ten.

Despite having endured much adversity during this fight in suffering six knockdowns, Algieri remained quite “Game” and more than proved his mettle by continuing to fight under circumstances where some might have conceded defeat. Although this was ultimately a one-sided contest in favor of Manny Pacquiao who would go on to win a twelve round unanimous decision, winning every round on the scorecards to retain his Welterweight world championship, the courage shown by Chris Algieri should not go unnoticed.

Algieri, who entered the fight against Pacquiao having never lost a fight as a boxer or as a kickboxer and who had registered a combined record of 40-0 not only suffered the first loss of his career, but was also stripped of his WBO Jr. Welterweight world championship. Although it would be understandable for any of Boxing’s respective governing bodies to impose a ruling that would force a world champion to make a decision on whether he or she would relinquish a world title after moving up in weight to capture a world championship.  It will be interesting to see what the WBO’s explanation for it’s decision to strip Algieri of his title. Algieri lost in his attempt to win a Welterweight world championship and could just as easily move back down in weight to the Jr. Welterweight division and resume competing in that weight class. It is also worth noting that there have been some instances throughout Boxing history where a fighter has been allowed to maintain titles in different weight classes simultaneously, most recently Floyd Mayweather who holds the WBC and WBA world championships in both the Welterweight and Jr. Middleweight divisions currently.

The political landscape of the sport notwithstanding and despite suffering the first loss of his career, Chris Algieri is still a force to be reckoned with in either the Jr. Welterweight or Welterweight divisions. Even though some might say that at the end of the day Chris Algieri was outclassed by Manny Pacquiao, he still gave a solid performance in defeat and it was simply a case of an all-time great in Pacquiao besting a world-class fighter in Algieri. It will be interesting to see where Chris Algieri goes from here, but this observer believes that the loss to Pacquiao might ultimately turn out to be a positive for Algieri and that the loss should be looked at as a setback.

As for Manny Pacquiao who successfully defended his WBO Welterweight world championship for the first time since regaining the title earlier this year in his rematch with Timothy Bradley, he proved once again why he is considered one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world with his performance in this fight. There may be some who might be critical in saying that he failed to score a knockout over an outclassed opponent, but this observer will not be one of them.

It is true that Pacquiao was unable to get the knockout win that some may have been expecting prior to this fight, but it was certainly not due to Pacquiao not pressing for a knockout. Although two of the six knockdowns in this fight were questionable due to Algieri slipping on excess water on the canvas in Pacquiao’s corner, one would be hard pressed to find a fight in which six knockdowns were scored against one fighter with no knockdowns going against the opponent where the fight ultimately went the distance. Despite two knockdowns being debatable in this fight, Pacquiao still scored four solid knockdowns and had his opponent hurt throughout the fight. Although some may question why this fight was not stopped by Referee Geno Rodriguez due to Algieri being dropped six times, it does not diminish Pacquiao’s performance in any way.

The question coming out of this fight as has been the case various times throughout the last several years following a Manny Pacquiao victory is whether or not the Boxing world will finally see an encounter between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. A fight viewed as a fight between the two best pound for pound fighters in the world. Following his victory over Chris Algieri both Pacquiao and his promoter Bob Arum stated that the fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao has to happen.

An interesting question that may or may not result in this fight being made is whether or not HBO and Showtime, two of the major television networks in the sport and rivals here in the United States will be able to come to an agreement for the fight to be made. This is due to HBO having ties to Manny Pacquiao in televising his fights and Showtime having an agreement with Floyd Mayweather to televise his fights.

Although some would probably see this as a roadblock that would prevent a fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao taking place, both HBO and Showtime have worked together in the past to make a major fight happen. Some may remember back in 2002 when the networks came together in order to make the Heavyweight championship fight between then champion Lennox Lewis, who had ties to HBO and former Heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, who had ties to Showtime, a reality in what was the first jointly produced pay-per-view event by the two networks in history.

The possibility certainly exists that a similar agreement could be made in regard to a fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao being made in what would likely be the most lucrative pay-per-view fight card in history. In this observer’s opinion it will all boil down to whether or not an agreement can be made between the fighters more so than whether or not an agreement can be made between the respective television networks that are involved.

As interest and demand for this fight to happen has increased, decreased, and increased again over the years with seemingly no progress being made to make Mayweather-Pacquiao a reality, there might be some who have given up on the idea of the fight actually happening. The feeling among many is that if a fight between the two is not made that each fighter’s respective legacy could be incomplete.

This observer has been very vocal over the years in saying that everyone involved from the fighters themselves, to the networks, and the promoters owe it to the Boxing fans. The fans who have continued to support not only the fighters themselves, but the sport in general through both good times and bad to make this fight happen. After all, where would Boxing, the networks, the promoters, and the fame and fortune it brings to all involved be without the fans? The answer… non-existent!

There is no doubt that both fighters are future first ballot Hall of Famers and have each had illustrious careers. With Mayweather approaching his thirty-eighth birthday in February 2015 and Pacquiao nearing his thirty-sixth birthday in December and with questions surrounding how long both fighters intend to continue their careers, an argument can be made that time to make this fight a reality might be running out. 

If this fight is not made however, and both fighters ultimately end their respective careers without giving the Boxing world the fight that it has been demanding for much of the last several years, both fighters legacies may indeed have a question mark placed before them when all is said and done. In closing, this observer will again state what he has stated several times over the last several years in regard to the subject of Mayweather-Pacquiao.

It is time for all involved the fighters, the networks, and the promoters to put differences aside and make this fight a reality. For the fans, which is what it’s really all about to begin with.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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