Pound-for-pound star Manny Pacquiao will be stepping into the ring as the favourite against Chris Algieri, but Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach won't be underestimating the American pugilist by any measure.
Fresh from a unanimous decision win over Timothy Bradley to reclaim the WBO Welterweight belt last April, Pacquiao is off to a dominant year of boxing with an unheralded Algieri coming in as his next challenger.
Algieri (20-0, 8 KOs) took the boxing world by storm after pulling off an upset win against heavy favorite Ruslan Provodnikov in their WBO light welterweight title clash last June 14. The match saw the 30-year old Algieri hitting the canvass twice in the first round, before holding his own through 12 furious rounds, using his technical boxing skills and footwork.
Many thought Provodnikov landed more clear shots to retain the title, but Algieri stunned everybody in the arena after judges gave him the split decision win to claim his first ever world championship crown.
Apparently, his victory against the Siberian Rocky proved to be just enough for him to earn the biggest paycheck of his career (at $1 million) when he faces former pound-for-pound champ and eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao on November 23 at Venetian Macao in Macau, China.
As expected, many boxing fans and analysts heavily criticized Top-Rank's decision to pit Pacquiao against Algieri, who hasn't commanded a strong fan base yet. Then again, veteran ring promoter Bob Arum believed Algieri's technical style will fit beautifully against Pacquiao's rugged boxing approach.
Roach, meanwhile, agreed that the American fighter is no easy opponent for Pacquiao, who has been busy in his attempt to become the first ever Filipino to make a crossover from boxing to professional basketball.
"He fought Ruslan and won. Algieri is undefeated [20-0, 8 KOs] and he's got a good record," Roach said in an interview with South China Morning Post. "He's in good shape. It's not going to be an easy fight."
The 35-year old Pacquiao will pocket a guaranteed fight purse of not less than $20 million in the showdown, but he will nevertheless put a stake his WBO Welterweight crown and potentially a shot at Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Mayweather Jr. is set to face Marcos Maidana in a rematch on September 13. Many pundits believed Pacquiao and Mayweather could be on a collision course if they managed to beat their respective opponents.
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