Pacquiao eyes KO in 1st round
MACAU—Manny Pacquiao looked up at the taller Chris Algieri during their face-off on Saturday. But there’s a good chance, he’ll end up standing over the fallen American challenger after their battle for the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight crown is over on Sunday.
Pacquiao has been tagged a 7-1 favorite in the HBO pay-per-view bout and the eight-division world champion is raring to prove that, at 35 years old, his punches are lethal enough to hand Algieri, the WBO light welterweight titlist, his first loss, if not his first trip to dreamland.
The 30-year-old Algieri, with his advantage in height and reach, is seeking a major reversal in his bid to become boxing’s new poster boy.
But experts feel the good-looking Algieri is in for a battering from Pacquiao in 12 rounds or less at Cotai Arena.
Perfect training camp
Having undergone seven weeks of what Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach described as a “perfect training camp” in General Santos City, Pacquiao is fired up and confident of emerging triumphant despite his opponent’s glaring edge in height (four inches) and reach (five inches).
Algieri towers over Pacquiao at 5-foot-10 and boasts a 72-inch wingspan.
“My people give me a lot of motivation to win. I’m fighting for them, I’m fighting for myself, I’m fighting for all boxing fans around the world,” Pacquiao said after the official weigh-in early Saturday morning.
Pacquiao tipped the scales at 65.2 kilograms (143.8 pounds) on his first try, while Algieri had to check-in thrice to make the 65.3 kg (144 pounds) catchweight limit.
When he first got on board, Algieri registered at 65.5 kg (144.4 pounds). He returned naked with his front covered only by his red and black jacket, and weighed 65.4 kg (144.2 pounds).
After an hour of jogging inside his room and a visit to the toilet, Algieri finally made the weight at 65.1 kg (143.6 pounds).
Though his trainer, Tim Lane, put the blame on the calibration of the weighing scale, it was evident that Algieri struggled to make the weight. The New Yorker of Italian and Argentine descent, weighed 67.1 kg (148 pounds) early Friday, and appeared gaunt and pale.
Roach was more vocal, predicting an end to Pacquiao’s five-year knockout drought and giving Algieri no chance of winning. Showing little respect for Algieri’s skills, Roach said the fight could be over in one round.
Especially with Pacquiao, the fire in his eyes is back, seemingly in a zone during training camp.
Not to be outdone, Lane is also claiming a stoppage win for Algieri, who isn’t really a heavy hitter basing from his knockout record—8 in 20 wins. Lane said the knockout, if ever, will come in the 10th round.
Algieri, too, isn’t discounting the possibility of stopping Pacquiao. He believes if he can hurt Pacquiao he can stop his rival.
Surrounded by his family, friends, relatives and supporters, some 350 of whom were flown in by two AirAsia planes on Monday, Pacquiao was a picture of a man at peace with himself.
After training as hard as he could and willing himself to be fiery and ferocious again, he now seemed eager to flaunt his familiar speed and enhanced power brought about by pounding the heavy bags more.
Pacquiao’s extra weapon, however, is his intense desire to win the world back on his side.
The Fighter of the Decade said he can only do that that by showing his trademark aggression and explosiveness.
Pacquiao is also gunning for an impressive win over Algieri that will push Floyd Mayweather Jr. to the wall and leave his pound-for-pound rival with little option but to agree to an overdue megabuck showdown next year.
Returning to this gambling and tourism haven for the second time, Pacquiao, who dominated Brandon Rios here last year, stands to earn a guaranteed $20 million.
Algieri, a former kickboxing champion and holder of a master’s degree in nutrition, will pocket $1.6 million, which will be more than enough to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor.
In a break from tradition, a group of pastors, not an individual, will be singing the Philippine national anthem.
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