By Kieran Mulvaney
"We are exactly where we need to be," insisted Chris Algieri's trainer Tim Lane at one point late in his beating at the hands of Manny Pacquiao. If they needed to be bouncing off the canvas as a result of Pacquiao's punches, Lane was on the money; otherwise, beyond an understandable desire to encourage his wilting fighter, it is difficult to figure out quite what Lane was seeing.
Algieri was never even remotely in this contest, and showed little to suggest he ever would be. There was a school of thought in the build-up that perhaps the American's long reach and footwork would make it difficult for Pacquiao to land effectively, and certainly the way in which Algieri circled backward and away from the Filipino all night ensured that it was at times hard for Pacquiao to hit him as cleanly as he would like.
But there was a competing vision, in which Algieri would be hopelessly outclassed, and this was the prediction that came to fruition most accurately. If the plan was to lure Pacquiao into counter punches – well, that didn't work well. If it was to survive the twelve rounds: OK, that worked as planned. If it was to be hit cleanly as infrequently as possible, the grade on that challenge is incomplete, as his constant backward circling did frustrate Pacquiao for long stretches, but Pacquiao's punches, when they found their target, did so with devastating effectiveness.
The first knockdown, in the second round, was a combination of a Pacquiao punch and Algieri slipping on the canvas; in the sixth round, Algieri tumbled head over heels after a Pacquiao barrage and went down again in that same round from a right hook.
A fierce left cross in the ninth sent Algieri to his back. He beat the count, but dropped to his knees from a follow-up flurry and seemed on the verge of being stopped as Pacquiao unleashed a fusillade of punches against the ropes. Somehow, the American survived that round and, despite being knocked down by another left hand in the tenth, made it to the final bell.
Pacquiao continued to pursue his foe, not letting up this time the way he has done in the past against the likes of Antonio Margarito or Brandon Rios. But Algieri clung on, always dancing away, always pulling back his head enough to limit the concussive impact of Pacquiao's punches, but doing nothing to encourage any belief that he might emulate the movie character he had been optimistically compared to and produce a "Real-Life Rocky" moment.
"It's not just his hand speed" said Algieri (20-1, 8 KOs) afterward of Pacquaio. "He's a great fighter. He does everything well. I was never hurt, but he did catch me with a big shot."
Pacquiao, as is his nature, was gentle in his assessment.
"I did my best," he reflected. "Algieri was fast-moving. I'm not surprised that he kept getting up, because that's what he did [in his previous fight] against Ruslan Provodnikov."
But the fact of the matter is that Algieri didn't belong in the same ring as Manny Pacquiao, He has ridiculous heart, as he proved against Provodnikov and demonstrated again by lasting twelve rounds against Pacquiao. But heart alone isn't enough against a future Hall-of-Famer such as Pacquiao.
Ah well, it is done. The more than 13,000 in the Cotai Arena enjoyed what they saw. And the boxing circus moves on to its next stop.