Photos: Will Hart
By Kieran Mulvaney
It was more embarrassing than consequential, but when Chris Algieri stepped on the scale on Saturday morning in Macau, he weighed 144.4 pounds – a mere four-tenths of one pound above the contracted weight for his battle with Manny Pacquiao, but above the weight nonetheless. He removed his underwear and the pendant around his neck, reducing the excess to two-tenths of a pound, and then went away to lose the rest.
His handlers made some half-hearted excuses to the effect that the scales were jumpy or not entirely reliable, but they were undercut by Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach’s prediction, after testing his fighter on the scales earlier, that the Filipino icon would weigh in one ounce inside the limit – which, at 143.8, he did. Of course, in the grand scheme of things, such a small amount made little to no appreciable difference, and there was never a concern that Algieri wouldn’t be able to make the limit on his second try; indeed, when he returned a little over 45 minutes later, he in fact tipped the scales at 143.6 lbs., a fraction less than his opponent – although, at a lanky 5’11”, he’ll hydrate to a higher weight than his foe when they enter the ring.
But at least it gave those assembled at the Venetian Macao’s Cotai Arena something to talk and laugh about.
“He’s supposed to be a nutrition expert,” sniffed Roach. “Embarrassing.” There were wisecracks about Algieri being easily able to lose the extra ounce or so if he would just wash the product out of his hair, and counter-cracks about such an action being a step too far for the coolly-coiffed challenger.
It was ultimately much ado about nothing, but it kept the assemblage of hacks occupied and offered justification for waking up in the early hours of Saturday morning to watch grown men strip off.
And so now, after months of hype and prediction, there is nothing left but the fight itself. It is not often that fight week provides reason for observers to change their predictions, but for a number of the media who will be ringside, this week has done just that. If there was a sense beforehand that Algieri’s length, reach, and movement would enable him to at least extend Pacquiao and perhaps push him all the way to a twelve-round decision, there is an emerging consensus – fed by Pacquiao’s explosiveness in training - that the gulf of class will be too great and that Algieri, for all his genuine confidence, will be overwhelmed by the Filipino’s speed and power.
Then again, as one person opined as the arena emptied after the weigh-in, that was the prevailing opinion before Pacquiao fought his third contest with Juan Manuel Marquez; the Mexican was said to be past his peak and ready to be taken by his rival. In the event, he produced arguably his strongest performance in what was to that point a trilogy, and then one year later left Pacquiao face-down and unconsciousness on the canvas.
The likelihood of Algieri reproducing those kind of efforts seems beyond remote. But that, as they say, is why they fight the fights.