HBO Boxing Year End Picks: Best Moments

Photo: Will Hart

Photo: Will Hart

With the end of the year approaching and Boxing's Best airing, HBO Boxing Insiders are taking a look back at 2014. Here, they make their selections for the best HBO Boxing moments this year.

More: HBO Boxing Year End Picks

Kieran Mulvaney:

Terence Crawford Returns to Omaha

From Ron Stander – who lost to Joe Frazier in Omaha's most recent previous title bout, in 1972 – shadowboxing at ringside, to Crawford prevailing in a terrific bout against Yuriorkis Gamboa and standing on the turnbuckle, arms aloft, drinking in the adoration of his hometown fans, this was a night that will live long in Cornhusker State sporting history and turned one of the sport's best technicians into a legitimate star.

George Groves Rides into Wembley

Eighty thousand fans were packed into Wembley Stadium as George Groves made his entrance for his rematch with Carl Froch, and quite the entrance it was: there were pyrotechnics, there was loud music, and there was Groves on top of a double-decker bus. Eight rounds later, his exit wasn't quite as grand.

Momma Pacquiao's hexes

Just what exactly is Dionesia Dapridan-Pacquiao doing at ringside with her rosary beads, her stares and her pointing? If it's some kind of hex on her son's opponents, it worked like a charm in 2014.

The Chris Algieri Show

I know his almost comically resolute self-confidence grated on some people after a while, but for me, Algieri was a breath of fresh air. He was a new name and a new face, he had a fun backstory, he was hugely accommodating to the media and was a terrific interview, and in two fights he demonstrated superhuman fortitude. I hope he gets further opportunities, I really do. Which makes it all the more unfortunate that his year will chiefly be remembered for …

Tim Lane's Extraordinary Optimism

Particularly one spectacularly ill-timed comment to Max Kellerman that had gone viral before Chris Algieri had finished hitting the canvas against Manny Pacquiao.

Eric Raskin: The "cage" interview

Yes, the jokes were beaten into the ground within 15 minutes of it happening. But that in no way diminishes what a fantastic, hilarious moment it was when Chris Algieri's trainer, Tim Lane, told Max Kellerman he was almost ready to let Algieri "out of the cage" … and two seconds later, Manny Pacquiao floored Algieri. You couldn't have scripted it any better.

Hamilton Nolan:

The funniest moment of the year to me was Nonito Donaire's post-fight interview in which he kept talking on and on and on, effusively, about how badly Nicholas Walters beat his ass. Points for honesty, I guess? I also liked the HBO announcer's willingness to point out when fight scores were trash. I hope they continue doing this until fight scores are not trashy any more.

Nat Gottlieb:

With his total beat down of Sergio Martinez, who hadn't lost in five years, Miguel Cotto captured the linear middleweight title in spectacular fashion at age 34, and did it in the Mecca of boxing, Madison Square Garden, before a raucous sellout crowd of adoring fans.

Middleweight Gennady Golovkin filled the stadium in Carson, CA this fall and it didn't matter if he was fighting Marco Antonio Rubio or Marco Polo. This guy puts asses in the seats. For the first time ever in boxing at The Stub Hub Center, extra seats had to be erected just to accommodate the mass of fans who wanted to see this ferocious knockout artist, clearly a must-see attraction.

Tim Smith:

The best moments are the entire story arc of Chris Algieri that played out on HBO.  It went from his rise from obscurity, fighting in club shows in Huntington, L.I., to get his big break fighting Provodnikov on HBO for the first time, pulling off the stunning upset, and then getting that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in a major pay per view event against superstar Manny Pacquiao. Unfortunately for Algieri it ended in a heart-wrenching fashion with the six knockdowns on the way to losing a lopsided decision.

Diego Morilla: Miguel Cotto wins the middleweight title

Winning a world title is always a memorable moment for any fighter. But becoming the first fighter from a boxing-crazy country to win titles in four different divisions, and doing it against all odds by decisively stopping a pound-for-pound undisputed champion in front of thousands of loyal fans has to be the greatest possible feeling for anybody, and especially if that fighter comes from a proud nation of boxing legends such as Puerto Rico. And Cotto achieved just that in his surprisingly dominant win over Sergio Martinez in June at the Madison Square Garden, in an emotionally-charged fight that is now part of the island's rich boxing lore.

 Michael Gluckstadt:

There really are too many to count. Andy Lee's two(!) miracle come-from-behind KOs. Chris Algieri's interest in avocados. The "Did Karim Mayfield lick Thomas Dulorme?" subplot. Wembley. Omaha. Cotto at the Garden. Bernard Hopkins visiting the doctor in an alien mask. John David Jackson's plan for Hopkins. Tim Lane's "plan" for Algieri. Ruslan Provodnikov's surreal "2 Days." Wladimir Klitschko's most exciting KO in years. "The Axe Man." Mama Pacquiao. Kovalev's crotch feint. The way Raskin says "Harold!" on the HBO Boxing Podcast, and for that matter, "Hey Harold!" Gabriel Rosado's left eye. David Lemieux's left hook.

All in all, you could sum up my feelings as follows (through a wide Kazakh grin): "This is fight. This is not game, this is fight. I love fight."

HBO Boxing Podcast - Episode 28 - Pacquiao vs. Algieri Postfight and Crawford vs. Beltran Preview

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney analyze Manny Pacquiao's drubbing of Chris Algieri and preview the upcoming lightweight title fight between Terence Crawford and Ray Beltran on Boxing After Dark, Saturday at 10:00 PM ET/PT.

BAD: Pacquiao vs. Algieri Replay

Don't miss the thrilling replay of their high-stakes world welterweight title battle this Saturday, November 29th, at 10PM (ET/PT) on HBO Boxing After Dark. 

Pacquiao Outclasses Algieri with Six Knockdowns in Rout

Photos: Will Hart

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.

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.