Before every Manny Pacquiao (57-3-2, 38) fight we seem to hear that the Filipino fighter is on the slide, isn't hungry and isn't what he once was. We won't suggest that he's in his prime, he certainly isn't, but he is still a top fighter as we saw again this past Sunday morning when he successfully defended the WBO Welterweight title and clearly beat brave American Chris Algieri (20-1, 8) in a one-sided contest in Macau
The bout started in relatively tame and unexciting fashion with Algieri moving a lot and throwing little. Every time Pacquiao landed anything the crowd cheered the Filipino who didn't seem to land much in the first round but did, clearly, out land Algieri. We saw something similar in the second round though Pacquiao did manage to connect with more solid shots that ended up marking up the left eye of Algieri. The key talking point of the second round was a botched call by the referee when Algieri slipped on the water in Pacquiao's corner, it was the first of 6 official knockdowns during the fight.
In the third round Pacquiao continued to take charge though was looking like a bull rather than a talented boxer. It wasn't that Pacquiao doesn't have the skills, he just refused to respect Algieri and was happy to take excessive risks in the attempt to land a clean bomb or two, sadly those bombs were limited in success with Algieri rarely standing still for long enough for Pacquiao to let shots go.
By the end of round 4 it was difficult to see what Algieri had in the locker and he was forced to take some solid and hard shots, including a major uppercut. It was impressive that Algieri withstood it without going down though it seemed that Algieri was going to begin taking bigger shots on a more regular basis. The only thing really saving Algieri from serious punishment was his insane engine that allowed him to move almost every second of every round.
It wasn't until round 6 that Pacquiao seemed to be able to get close enough to Algieri for long enough to do real damage which he eventually did following a hard left hand which was followed up in style as he sent Algieri down for a legitimate knockdown. Algieri managed to recover though was down again, albeit another water-related slip as Pacquiao recorded a 10-7 round and moved into a nigh on unassailable lead.
Despite being 9 points down after just 6 rounds Algieri was given copious amounts of encouragement from his trainer who appeared to be completely deluded and unaware of what was going on in the ring. Rather than admitting that Algieri was in trouble was repeating the mantra of being “exactly where we wanna be baby”, a very confusing assessment of what was actually going on in the ring,
Rounds and 7 and 8 were some of Algieri's best as he connected with a number of clean right hands but they merely bounced off the Filipino who landed his own, more eye catching and effective, shots. Algieri's biggest problem was he stuck in a mentality of needing to move to survive and as a result his output was far too low and his power too lacking to really cause Pacquiao to think twice about what he was doing.
It appeared that Algieri was growing in confidence and was having success in neutralising Pacquiao early in round 9. That was short lived however and a monster left hand from the Filipino fighter dropped Algieri hard. The American appeared to get a very long count and was looking out on his feet though the referee deemed him fit to continue. Pacquiao jumped on his man, smelling blood and soon afterwards Algieri was down for the second time in the round. Pacquiao was then in kill mode and went to destroy his pray. Shot after shot reigned in from the Filipino and appeared he had forced the referee to step in. Instead of the stoppage however it was a poor positioning issue of the referee that led to real confusion when he really should have stepped in.
Having just managed to see out round 9 it was surprising to see Algieri get sent out for round 10 and several times in the round he appeared to wobble. Those however were the final scares for Algieri who had recovered his senses by the start of round 11 and saw out the final 2 rounds with out much in terms of real danger.
Having completely dominated the bout there was little real question about the score cards which read 119-103, 119-103 and 120-102 all in favour of Pacquiao.
Now the talk, of course, goes back to a Pacquiao Vs Mayweather bout, a bout that should have been made back in 2010. By now the bout has lost a lot of it's allure, it's something we still all want, of course, but not something that will define the sport as it would have done a few years ago. A few years ago the two were the stand out fighters, now both have slid whilst we've seen the rise of Roman Gonzalez, Guillermo Rigondeaux and Gennady Golovkin all of whom have managed to take attention away from Pacquiao and Mayweather and new fights have becoming interesting. What was one the fight everyone wanted is now just another fight and if it's made, as rumoured, for May 5th then it's likely to the swansong for the loser as opposed to a bout that could have put either man among the greats.
For Algieri this loss was a painful one though hopefully it won't be one that sends him into obscurity. He's a talented and likeable fighter and we'd love to hear him on a microphone, following in the footsteps of Paulie Malignaggi, as well as seeing him fighting other non-elite fighters. Perhaps strangely we would favour Algieri against almost anyone at Light Welterweight, including Danny Garcia, if Algieri is to drop back down a weight. At Welterweight the scene might be too tough for him though we'd still like to see him in with some of them to see how good he really is.
Through out boxing history we've seen a fighter taking their big chance upsetting the odds with a stirring and memorable performance and it happened again this past Saturday night as likeable American Chris Algieri (20-0, 8) put on a brave and memorable effort, to defeat the all action Ruslan Provodnikov (23-3, 16) and claim the WBO Light Welterweight world title.
Like Provodnikov, who himself made his name by shocking everyone in giving Timothy Bradley an extremely tough test, it seemed being written off spurred on Algieri who really put on an upset of the year type of performance.
It seemed unlikely that Algieri was going to win going in to the fight. It seemed even more unlikely when the challenger was down twice in the opening round and was suffering from a badly swollen right eye that appeared likely to threaten an early conclusion to the bout. It seemed, at that point, that Algieri wouldn't last long under the onslaught of Provodnikov who was bringing intense pressure to the ring.
The pressure of Provodnikov continued to make the action tough but round after round it seemed the Russian was struggling with the difficult and tricky Algieri who was beginning to out work and out land Provodnikov who looked more like he was trying to land single shots rather than work his way in and pin Algieri down. It was a mistake of Provodnikov to try and knock out Algieri in every round with single bombs whilst being force fed a lovely variety of shots from Algieri who was looking better and better every round.
In the middle rounds Algieri's nose began to bleed, his eye became more swollen and his mouth seemed to begin to bleed as Provodnikov's power took it's effect on the American, even though he was struggling to land with any consistent success. It again looked like Algieri was going to be stopped if things got worse but amazing he didn't panic, he didn't worry and more notably he didn't question himself. Instead Algieri gathered his thoughts and continued to box and move, making Provodnikov look stupid as he winged in some wild looking shots.
Surprisingly, given the start, we managed to reach the final bell. Although Algieri was looking like he had been in a car crash he had made his way through the 12 rounds. With the 10-7 opening round however it seemed hard to believe that Algieri had done enough to over-come the champion, especially considering the number of very competitive rounds that seemed likely to have just helped Provodnikov secure his first defence. Amazingly however the judges managed to see Algieri was the winner of a split decision with scores of 114-112 (twice) in his favour whilst one judge managed to see Provodnikov as the winner with a score of 117-109.
Despite the wide variance of the score cards it was a bout that really could have been that wide. It was a case of scoring what you liked and Algieri's work rate, clean accurate punching and effective movement probably did deserve the decision, however a case could be made for the power of Provodnikov being enough for him to claim the close and competitive rounds that could easily have helped him retain his title.
Although Provodnikov lost his belt in a close fight we're very unlikely to see a rematch. Provodnikov made it clear after the fight that he didn't want to fight fighters like Algieri, boxers, and would instead prefer to give fans action fights with fellow brawlers. Hopefully we'll see him in such a fight next time out and maybe battles with Lucas Matthysse, Marcos Maidana, Brandon Rios or even Yoshihiro Kamegai could be organised for a hot blooded winter brawl in a bout that could see both men gaining valuable exposure in a war.
As far Algieri he's going to be a difficult man to match and a difficult man to beat. With a tricky and busy style, a very likeable attitude, great heart and a fantastic personality he's got the potential to be a very good fighter to follow. He may not have a warriors mentality but he's made us fans with his performance tonight.
(Image courtesy of Star Boxing)
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.