Pacquiao Outclasses Algieri with Six Knockdowns in Rout

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.

Shiming Shines Despite Shiner

By Kieran Mulvaney

Zou Shiming scored four knockdowns – but had to overcome a badly swollen and cut left eye and a determined and resilient opponent with an occasional predilection for landing low and leading with the head – en route to a 12-round unanimous decision win in flyweight action.

Zou – who, lest we forget, because of his massive popularity in China is The Reason We Are All in Macau™ – began brightly, dropping Thai opponent and Manny Pacquiao doppelganger Kwanpichit OnesongchaiGym face-first to the canvas twice in round two, on both occasions courtesy of straight right hands. A flurry at the end of the round might have resulted in an early ending to the contest had not the bell rung when it did; but, despite dropping his opponent again in the sixth, and once more in the twelfth (this final call a more controversial one, as it appeared the two men basically dragged each other to the canvas), Zou had to endure some torrid times before hearing the final bell.

OnesongchaiGym clearly had no intention of performing a role purely as The Opponent, and attacked Zou as best he could, whenever he could – his determination to hit his foe wherever and with whatever he could earning him a point deduction in the sixth and a couple of stern warning. Despite on occasion landing flush on his foe’s chin, the Thai fighter rarely looked strong or capable enough to cause the upset.

The final scores – 119-106 twice and 120-103 – were perhaps a smidgen harsh, but not overly so. Zou, who improves his professional record to 6-0 with just 1 KO, remains a work in progress, and will need to be matched carefully as his career progresses. But the roar of the crowd with every punch he landed underlined the reason for wanting to do so: he is hugely popular among his home fans, and with exciting performances likes this he will surely – for all his limitations – become only more so.

Lomachenko Hands Out One-Handed Beating

Photos: Will Hart

By Kieran Mulvaney

In the fourth round of his featherweight title defense against overmatched Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, Vasyl Lomachenko scored a knockdown of exquisite beauty: landing a southpaw right hook and a follow-up left, shifting his position, landing another combination, and then taking a step back, sizing up his foe and waiting for the perfect moment before launching one more left hand to drop his Thai challenger to the canvas in the corner.

An early end to the contest seemed a matter of inevitability; but, at the end of the sixth, Lomachenko – the two-time Olympic champion who won a world title in his third professional bout – returned to his corner with a painful and possibly broken left wrist. So, for the rest of the fight, he went out and won every minute of every remaining round with just his right hand, moving in and out of range like an especially agile cat and popping Piriyapinyo with right hooks, jabs and uppercuts. His opponent was game – and initially, once he sensed Lomachenko was hurt, he turned aggressor; but by the end, he had withdrawn into his cage, resigned to being beaten up by a one-handed man.

Lomachenko is simply a joy to watch: his speed, his balance, his footwork, his innate understanding of where he is in relation to his opponent. In just his fourth pro outing, he is already close to being the perfect package. While his injury may have prevented the knockout his fans craved, the fact that he dominated a foe who entered the ring with a record of 52-1, and did so with just one hand for half the fight, is perhaps all the more impressive and indicative of his tremendous potential.

Vargas Guts Out Tough Win Over DeMarco

Photos: Will Hart

by Kieran Mulvaney

At one point in round 11, junior welterweight Jessie Vargas channeled new trainer Roy Jones Jr. to perfection: standing in front of his opponent in a crouch, hands held low, he launched a lead right hand from a distance, and it crunched into his foe’s face, snapping back his head. By mimicking the future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, Vargas was able to regain firm control of a bout that was in danger of slipping away from him, and ultimately was able to do something that his chief second rarely if ever had to do during his professional career: gut out a tough and gritty win against a dangerous opponent.

After a quiet opening round, and a second that opponent Antonio DeMarco may have shaded with greater activity, Vargas seized control of the contest in the third round: finding his range, doubling over DeMarco with body shots and then launching uppercuts to the head. Although both men threw hard combinations over the next several frames, Vargas was in the ascendant. Then, in the seventh, a sharp combination from DeMarco stunned Vargas and seemed to have him out on his feet until a follow-up combination woke him up. The ninth saw DeMarco rock Vargas some more; both men were bruised, swollen and bloodied, and Vargas was throwing enough to stay in the fight, but DeMarco’s punches were the shorter and sharper.

Then Vargas found his second wind in the eleventh, and closed the show in the twelfth, earning a 116-112 decision across the board. Vargas remains unbeaten at 26-0 (9KOs); DeMarco falls to 31-4-1, with 23 KOs.

HBO Boxing News: Pacquiao-Algieri Weigh-In

Manny Pacquiao and Chris Algieri weigh-in for their welterweight title bout. 

Briefly Overweight, Algieri Returns Ready for Action

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.

Watch: Training with Manny Pacquiao

Hall of fame trainer Freddie Roach shares a first-person look at what it’s like to step in the ring and train with Manny Pacquiao.

Pacquiao-Algieri Fight Week Videos

From 24/7 to one-on-one interviews, watch all of the HBO video for the fight between Manny Pacquiao and Chris Algieri, Saturday night at 9 PM ET/6 PM PT.