Manny Pacquiao vs. Chris Algieri: Head-to-Toe Breakdown of Both Fighters

Kevin McRaeFeatured ColumnistJuly 16, 2014

Manny Pacquiao vs. Chris Algieri: Head-to-Toe Breakdown of Both Fighters

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    Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao will make his return to the ring on November 22 at the Venetian Resort in the gambling mecca of Macau, per Greg Logan of Newsday, defending his WBO Welterweight Championship against newly minted 140-pound champion Chris Algieri.

    Pacquiao enters the contest on a two-fight winning streak, having righted an old wrong by toppling Timothy Bradley to regain a welterweight title in April. The fight was a bit of a bust at the box office, and it led to an epic feud between the MGM Grand—which hosted the contest—and Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum.

    Sagging pay-per-view numbers and lingering bad feelings with the MGM are likely why this fight is headed to Macau, a locale known for its favorable tax rates that allow it to compensate for drops in PPV sales.

    Algieri, an undefeated but until recently largely unknown Huntington, New York, native, earned this fight by taking down Team Pacquiao’s likely first choice for the bout, former junior welterweight champion Ruslan Provodnikov, in June.

    The 30-year-old showed tremendous grit and heart, fighting back from two early knockdowns and a grotesquely swollen eye to outbox Provodnikov and wrest his title. More importantly, that fight earned him the opportunity of the lifetime against one of boxing’s biggest superstars.

    Here we examine the fight and the fighters. This is your complete head-to-toe breakdown of Pacquiao vs. Algieri for the WBO Welterweight Championship.

Fight Info

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    Main Event: Manny Pacquiao vs. Chris Algieri; 12 rounds for Pacquiao's WBO Welterweight Championship

    Where: Cotai Arena at the Venetian Resort in Macau, China

    When: November 22, 2014

    TV: HBO pay-per-view

The Fighters

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    All stats and information per BoxRec.com.

     Manny PacquiaoChris Algieri
    Record56-5-2, 38 KO20-0, 8 KO
    Age3530
    Height5'6.5"5'10"
    Weight145 (last fight)140 (last fight)
    Reach67"72"
    StanceSouthpawOrthodox
    HometownKibawe, Bukidnon, PhilippinesHuntington, New York
    Rounds396122
    Last FightUD 12 Timothy Bradley (4/12/14)SD 12 Ruslan Provodnikov (6/14/14)

What You Need to Know

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    Pacquiao has bounced back from a stunning knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez with back-to-back quality wins. He took nearly a year off from action and then returned last November to batter the rugged Brandon Rios over 12 one-sided rounds for an easy victory.

    He followed that up by scoring a measure of revenge against Bradley—who had taken a ludicrous decision from him 18 months prior—coming on in the second half of the fight to secure a clear decision win and a share of the welterweight crown.

    Pacquiao’s rematch with Bradley was a commercial disappointment, failing to top the first fight in PPV buys and forcing the Filipino’s team to look toward other markets. This will be Pac-Man’s second fight in Macau—where the financial terms are more favorable than the United States—and it will be against an opponent whom most people hadn’t heard of even a month ago.

    Algieri was a decorated amateur and professional kickboxing champion before turning to boxing full time in 2008. Fighting entirely in his home state of New York, he has compiled an undefeated professional record and currently holds the WBO 140-pound title.

    He earned that belt, and this fight, by knocking off Provodnikov at the Barclays Center this past June in a pretty significant upset. The Siberian Rocky, known as an aggressive pressure fighter with huge punching power, entered the ring as a heavy favorite to retain his belt and move on to his own showdown with Pacquiao.

    But Algieri used his length, reach and boxing ability to limit the slugger's offensive opportunities. He survived a pair of first-round knockdowns and a completely swollen-shut right eye to nip a narrow split decision. There was some debate about the verdict, but Algieri’s heart and determination are beyond question.

Boxing Ability

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    Pacquiao has lost a fair amount of the ferocity and buzzsaw-like attack that gained him international fame and a seat atop boxing’s pound-for-pound ranks, but he’s still a highly effective and dangerous boxer.

    Gone are the days of a whirlwind rushing across the ring, throwing punches in bunches from every conceivable angle and forcing opponents to spend all their time playing defense.

    Pacquiao showed in his rematch against Bradley that he’s still capable of outboxing a world-class opponent, and he really took it to him in the second half after weathering an early storm. He was able to land shots at will, and while it wasn’t the Pacquiao of old, it showed he still has plenty left in the tank.

    Algieri has great length, reach and pure boxing skill. He will carry a pretty significant five-inch reach advantage into his contest with Pacquiao, and his jab is clearly his best punch.

    He has tremendous head and foot movement, and he does a good job of controlling the distance of the fight.

    Algieri showed against Provodnikov that he can keep a big puncher at bay with his movement and jab. He outlanded the Siberian slugger by a good amount, according to CompuBox, and that was his path to victory in a close, competitive fight.

     

    Advantage

    In an assessment made just on pure boxing skill, Algieri takes the nod. He’s a better technical fighter, and his jab, length and reach advantages could make this fight more competitive than many expect. But it's a big leap from a one-dimensional fighter like Provodnikov to Pacquiao, and he will find that out.

Power

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    Pacquiao hasn’t stopped a foe since bludgeoning Miguel Cotto into submission in the final round of their 2009 contest, and that will be more than five years in the rearview mirror on fight night.

    That’s not to say that the Filipino doesn’t still pack a good amount of pop in his punches, but to re-emphasize, he isn’t the blazing destroyer of old. He pounded Rios, a tough but limited customer for sure, over a full 12 rounds, and he never once had him in any significant trouble.

    Pacquiao is still a quality puncher—many have speculated that his diminishing returns are the result of lacking killing instinct, not skill—and he buzzed Bradley a few times in the second half of the fight. But that may have had more to do with Desert Storm wearing down than Pacquiao’s power.

    Algieri’s biggest Achilles' heel is his power. There really isn’t a whole lot to speak of.

    With only eight victories inside the distance, the Long Island native is clearly a boxer and not a puncher. He landed 288 punches, mostly jabs, against Provodnikov and never seemed to put as much as a dent in his armor.

    No, Algieri isn’t going to wow you with his punching power. That’s just not his game.

     

    Advantage

    Even if Pacquiao’s power has faded a tad over the years, he’s still well north of Algieri in this category.

Defense

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    Pacquiao has spent most of his career subscribing to the adage that a good offense equates to a good defense. And it’s worked out pretty well for him.

    The Filipino has rarely been hurt during his Hall of Fame career—one missile right hand from Marquez being the obvious exception—and he still carries enough pop to force opponents to be wary when coming in on him.

    Pacquiao does tend to get a bit careless at times. He showed that against Bradley in the early rounds this past April, getting buzzed by a few big shots from a non-power puncher before settling into his rhythm. Still, if you want to get inside and land against Pac-Man, you need to be willing to walk through fire to get there.

    Algieri is a solid ring general, and his defense is very good overall.

    The 140-pound champion used excellent foot and head movement to relegate Provodnikov to one big shot at a time in June, and many of those punches were picked off before they reached the target.

    Algieri does have a bad tendency to fight behind a high guard and leave his long midsection exposed to attack. Against a fighter like Pacquiao, that could provide a significant problem, and he’ll need to address it in training camp.

     

    Advantage

    Algieri’s speed and footwork carried the day against Provodnikov, but the Russian slugger didn’t do a very good job of cutting off the ring or working behind his jab. You can bet that won’t be a problem for Pacquiao, who is infinitely more refined than his stablemate.

    Algieri’s advantages in length and reach again make this close, but he’s never had to employ them against a fighter as good as Pacquiao.

Game Plan

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    Pacquiao will need to be the aggressor, using his jab and speed to get inside Algieri’s long jab and into scoring range. Freddie Roach, who trained Provodnikov to face the Long Island native in June, should have a better perspective of what does and doesn’t work this time around.

    Provodnikov was an ineffective stalker for large segments of the fight, and that won’t be a problem for Pacquiao. The Filipino is better at cutting off the ring, using his feet to get into position and unloading with quick, powerful shots.

    Pacquiao also has a huge speed edge on Provodnikov. While the Russian got picked off whenever he lunged in with his shots, Pac-Man is quick enough to land over Algieri’s guard and get out. He just needs to be consistent and not allow himself to fight in spurts, ceding the advantage and activity to his opponent.

    Algieri is a boxer, and he needs to box effectively in order to score another upset.

    He’s not going to outpunch or outfight Pacquiao, but he does have the capability of outboxing him. He needs to use his long, rangy jab to keep the fight at a comfortable distance, stay tight in his guard to avoid the Filipino’s big shots and counter him effectively like he did Provodnikov.

    Those are a lot of ifs, but Algieri is eminently gutsy, and he can fight a little bit too.

     

    Advantage

    Pacquiao is on another level from anything Algieri has seen before. His speed, power and ability to cut off the ring and get inside should be the determining factors in a decent, close fight.

Early Prediction

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    Many people probably felt that Arum was kidding when he picked Algieri to upset Provodnikov and move on to a showdown with Manny, but here we are.

    This is a much better fight than most people think. It’s probably going to bomb on PPV—boxing fans have been much more reluctant in recent months to part with their cash—and the star power just isn’t there for the average fan.

    Algieri will have his moments in the fight. He has a five-inch edge in reach and a significant height advantage and can use both of those factors to control the distance.

    Expect a pretty even fight, at least on the scorecards, heading into the second half.

    That’s when Pacquiao’s experience edge and superior offensive weaponry will begin to take their toll. Algieri won’t be able to keep him off forever, and when Pac-Man starts to land with consistency, the cream will rise to the top.

    Pacquiao will close the distance in the second half, landing shots to Algieri’s midsection before bringing the attack upstairs. The challenger will continue to battle, and his grit and guile will be enough to win him somewhere in the range of four rounds.

    That's not bad, but it's not good enough to take down this big a prize.

    Pacquiao wins a competitive fight by unanimous decision.

    Prediction: Pacquiao UD 12 Algieri (116-112)