According to ESPN.com's Dan Rafael, Manny Pacquiao is set to fight Chris Algieri in what can only be called a wasteful disgrace of the popular icon’s twilight years as one of boxing’s top performers. The fight will take place Nov. 22 at the Venetian in Macau, China and will be telecast via HBO pay-per-view.
Algieri, the junior welterweight upstart who upset Ruslan Provodnikov in his last fight, will get a shot at Pacquiao’s welterweight title belt as well as the prestige that goes along with matching up against one of the sport’s biggest stars.
The problem, of course, is that Algieri, while a good fighter and competent professional, has absolutely no business sharing the spotlight with Pacquiao at this stage of either man's career.
Algieri is undefeated in 20 professional prizefights but has never competed at anything close to the level of a fighter like Pacquiao. Moreover, Algieri’s resume is paper-thin, save for his hotly contested and highly debatable split-decision win over Provodnikov in June.
In that bout, Algieri was floored twice by Provodnikov in the first round before rallying strong and going the distance. It was a commendable performance, but while Algieri had the edge in both thrown and landed punches, Provodnikov landed the more telling blows to the point that one of the judges scored the bout 117-109 in his favor.
Algieri, a native New Yorker, took the fight in front of the Brooklyn crowd by getting the nod on the other two scorecards, 114-112 on both.
So to be clear, those who argue Algieri earned his dream bout against Pacquiao by defeating Provodnikov would first have to convince many who watched the same exact fight that he deserved the nod in the first place.
Even so, has Algieri notched any other wins that would warrant the Pacquiao fight? A review of the names on his record suggests otherwise.
Moreover, there is nothing Algieri did in his fight against the limited brawler, Provodnikov, to make one believe he’d have any kind of success against the faster, stronger and more precise puncher, Pacquiao.
Pacquiao is arguably the greatest fighter of his generation. Oh sure, the 35-year-old has more losses than his chief rival to that claim, Floyd Mayweather, but Pacquiao’s greatest wins stand as a testament to what a fighter can achieve if he tests himself against the very best.
Whereas Mayweather has consistently sought out low-risk/high-reward ventures, Pacquiao has done the exact opposite.
Think about it. Was there anyone who believed back in 2008 that the super featherweight buzz saw would, the very next year, start a roughshod run through the biggest and baddest names in the welterweight division?
Weren’t the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito just too big and strong for the diminutive Pacquiao?
But Pacquiao thrashed them anyway, along with Ricky Hatton, Joshua Clottey and Shane Mosley for good measure.
Yes, Pacquiao’s prime was a sight to behold. But even when he started to slip, even when he let off the gas against Timothy Bradley in 2012 enough to let the judges rob him of a clear victory, wasn’t he at least fighting against some of the best competition in the world?
Pacquiao was starched in December 2012 by his archrival, Juan Manuel Marquez, with as good a counter right hand as has ever been landed in the sport.
But even after appearing motionless on the floor and requiring almost a year absence from the sport to recover, didn't Pacquiao’s comeback at least come against the rugged and strong Brandon Rios in 2013?
Pacquiao’s speed was too much for Rios. Pac-Man wrecked him over 12 rounds to prove he might still be one of the best fighters on the planet and then proved as much shortly thereafter by doing the same to Bradley in the rematch of their previous encounter.
Look, Pacquiao’s options appeared limited for November. But as a top earner and historically great fighter, especially one who fights in such an aggressive style, he shouldn't afford to waste his time on bouts that won’t mean anything to his legacy, or at the very least garner him a ton of money in the process.
But it seems that’s exactly what Pacquiao and his promoter Top Rank have decided to move forward with this fall.
It’s a shame. A generation of fight fans left twisting in the wind by a fighter like Mayweather and all the risks he didn't take in his career—and doesn't appear to be taking as he heads toward the exit door either—always had Pacquiao to fall back on.
He might not have been as gifted as Mayweather. He surely wasn't as good a defender, and he most certainly never had the edge in technical proficiency.
But Pac-Man was always ahead of Mayweather in one area: He always made fights against the very best competition available.
It might very well be that Algieri was the best fight Pacquiao could get in November. Never mind Mayweather, who will do everything he can to avoid working with Bob Arum. Never mind Marquez, who might be content to hold onto the lasting memory of the fourth fight's knockout win.
But weren't other guys available who might have been interested in the fight? Doesn't that seem reasonable to assume?
With the cold war thawing between Top Rank and Golden Boy, wouldn’t fighters like Amir Khan, Adrien Broner or even Robert Guerrero want a shot at Pacquiao?
And what of a third bout with Bradley as a fail-safe?
Or even the brawling Provodnikov, who has a bigger name and better style than Algieri and might very well have deserved the nod against him in the first place?
Or what about the always entertaining Mike Alvarado?
Doesn’t it seem like there was at least one better option out there than Algieri?
Because if there was, then Pacquiao’s bout with Algieri is just a humongous waste of time: a big, disgraceful public relations disaster for a fighter who should never have had to worry about such a thing.
It's a shame.
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