Pacquiao ‘100% confident’ in Sunday match vs Algieri
MACAU—The fire is back in Manny Pacquiao’s eyes.
And it spells trouble for Chris Algieri.
Satisfied with what he has done after his gym session on Thursday, Pacquiao expressed confidence that he would emerge victorious in their battle for the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight crown at Cotai Arena of The Venetian Macao on Sunday.
“One hundred percent confident,” Pacquiao told Fred Sternburg, publicist of Top Rank, after his final workout. “I have that fire in my eyes.”
Of course, that wasn’t visible to others.
But to those who’ve been with Pacquiao during his training, that fierce, fiery look was again discernible—as if he was reliving the lean, hungry days when he was a 16-year-old, 105-pounder fighting for loose change.
‘12 rounds too long’
In his last few fights, Pacquiao has been accused of lacking the killer instinct, the reason he’s failed to score a stoppage in the last five years, dropping his knockout percentage in a 56-win, 5-loss, 2-draw record.
The boast of the Algieri camp that the American challenger is going to win by a knockout apparently stoked the fire back in Pacquiao.
It was fueled by Pacquiao’s desire to prove that he’s still the same beast that terrorized the boxing world in the past decade.
Though he refuses to predict a knockout, Pacquiao hinted of his desire to finish off Algieri when he told sportswriters that “12 rounds is too long.”
“I’m very happy with my training camp because it was a new birth. It was like back to the old days—my speed, power and determination are back,” Pacquiao said at a prefight news conference.
“I know my opponent is excited to win this fight but I won’t let that happen,” Pacquiao added.
Fight at 144 pounds
Pacquiao’s wife, Jinkee, shared the Sarangani representative’s sentiment.
“I have no doubt that he’s going to win,” Jinkee, the Sarangani vice governor, told a sportswriter. “ I know he is so focused in his training and is so determined (to win). I feel so calm and excited.”
Pacquiao will defend his WBO welterweight title (147 pounds or 66.68 kilograms) against Algieri, the WBO junior welterweight (140 pounds or 63.5 kg) champion.
They will fight at a catchweight limit of 65.3 kg (144 pounds).
Pacquiao didn’t need the huge bouquet of flowers he was holding to feel welcome at his official grand entrance in the lobby of the massive Venetian hotel-casino.
He smiled and posed with the flowers because there’s a fight with Algieri to sell, something Pacquiao seems to be taking more seriously as his career begins heading into the later rounds.
Fight with Mayweather
There are also new rumblings along the Floyd Mayweather Jr. front.
Pacquiao seems reenergized as he plots what he hopes will be a spectacular performance that might stop talk about his declining knockout power—he hasn’t had a stoppage in five years now—and entice Mayweather to finally enter the ring with him next year in what would surely be boxing’s richest fight ever.
“I’m not predicting a knockout, but I’m looking for a good fight and looking to prove I can still fight,” Pacquiao said of the Sunday fight. “I’m willing to fight anybody. I’m not ducking anyone.”
That includes Mayweather, of course, and promoter Bob Arum said there have been some preliminary behind-the-scenes talks to make the long-awaited fight finally happen.
Whether it actually takes place, though, depends largely on Mayweather.
Arum said he has had discussions with Leslie Moonves, head of CBS Corp., and is somewhat optimistic that the parent company of Showtime network Mayweather is contracted to can help get it made.
“I believe they have talked to Mayweather and that he is on board,” Arum said.
Arum could be using the possibility of a Mayweather fight to try to spark interest in Pacquiao’s bout with Algieri, which will take place about noon so it can be sold on pay-per-view in the United States.
Talk of boxing
A Pacquiao-Mayweather fight has been the talk of boxing for five years now, and nothing has come of it, mainly because Mayweather wants to control his own destiny and wants nothing to do with Arum, his former promoter.
Pacquiao could certainly use a fight with Mayweather to revitalize his career and possibly cement his legacy as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters of his time.
But if he doesn’t take care of business against Algieri in a fight in which he is heavily favored, boxing may never get the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight that is the one fans really want.
“Let’s finish this fight first,” the Filipino congressman said. “My job is to fight. I’m not picking opponents. Whoever wants to fight me, we will fight.”
Without a big punch
In Algieri, Pacquiao has an opponent who seems to have everything but a big punch. Algieri is a promoter’s dream, a college graduate with a master’s in clinical nutrition who wants to be a doctor.
Algieri still lives in his parents’ basement on Long Island, but talks confidently about not only beating Pacquiao but making a big name.
Algieri got the fight after getting off the canvas twice in the first round to win a disputed decision over Ruslan Provodnikov for a piece of the welterweight title in June.
Arum believes Algieri’s story will help sell the fight, unlike Pacquiao’s first fight in Macau last November against Brandon Rios that did well at the box office but was not a pay-per-view smash.
It has been five years since Pacquiao last stopped a fighter and the Filipino eight-weight champion said he would blow away any lingering suggestion that his powers are on the wane two weeks before his 36th birthday.
“He wants to prove to everyone that he can still punch,” Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach told reporters.
“That’s why we went to catchweight at 144. He’s never been a puncher at 147. He’s only knocked out two welterweights. That’s why the drop in weight.”
Welterweight Miguel Angel Cotto was the last man “Pacman” stopped, on Nov. 14, 2009, and Roach had pushed Pacquiao through a punishing camp with increased heavy bag work to bring back the congressman from Sarangani province’s legendary punching power.
“When Manny hits the bag, the whole gym stops. I mean, everyone looks at the pop he has, the power and the speed,” said Roach.
“The heavy bag is for strength. The heavy bag was a vital part of our training camp for this fight.”
Rocky at ringside
Algieri (20-0, 8 KOs) is a former kickboxer dubbed the “real-life Rocky” and he will have “silver screen Rocky” Sylvester Stallone rooting for him at ringside come fight time.
But Roach declared it would be no fairytale ending for Algieri.
“He’s way over his head,” Roach said. “They’re trying to make out like Algieri is the next Rocky but this isn’t a movie … Trust me. Rocky’s going to get knocked out.” With reports from AP, AFP
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