By Ivan G. Goldman
The publicity tour for the Nov. 22 Manny Pacquiao-Chris Algieri contest
kicks off early, Monday August 25, with a press conference in upstart casino capital Macau.
The event is another example of a general global trend we’re all familiar with. The boxing industry, like so many others before it, is taking its business offshore to China, where it can avoid pesky taxes and regulations. But this time it’s not going to work.
Sure, American consumers might purchase Chinese smart phones, light bulbs, and even pork, but not many U.S. fight fans are eager to pay extra to see yet another questionable product from the epicenter of junk materials, sloppy workmanship, and brazen knockoffs. Pacquiao-Algieri promises to be another one of those contests that doesn’t qualify as pay-per-view material but will be sold that way anyhow.
The event could have been a sweet success if it were given away to HBO subscribers, but nowadays once you have a bona fide superstar such as Pacquiao, the star doesn’t step down from PPV even when scheduled to participate in a bout that cries out for flexibility. And when the contest is being fought overseas where it can generate no more than a faint buzz in America, the show is unlikely to fly high in the Land of the Free.
The match-up compares unfavorably to welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather’s rematch with Marcos Maidana Sept. 13 in Las Vegas. Those of us who have been saying for years that slick Floyd is ducking formidable Pacquiao must now face the new music. Floyd is going after a dangerous guy who may be flawed, but he can really hurt you. Manny is going after a guy who on a good night might scratch out a win against a world-class opponent but is unlikely to put anyone’s lights out.
Yes, promoter Bob Arum and his overseas casino partners will fill up the seats somehow, but the magic won’t be there. The choice of Algieri, a guy who hits like a feather duster and is barely known to the public, guarantees a kind of low-level disaster.
When Arum put this match together he was running out of potential opponents for his Filipino superstar. Mysterious conniving manager-promoter-advisor Al Haymon had much of the welterweight division cornered, and he wasn’t doing business with Arum. But now that Haymon ally Richard Schaefer, the CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, has left the company, it opens up a world of new opportunities.
Golden Boy and Arum’s Top Rank Promotions are no longer acting like the Hatfields and McCoys and the logjam is breaking. Golden Boy fighter Bernard Hopkins will face Sergey Kovalev Nov. 8 on HBO, which refused to do business with the company when it was run by Schaefer. The two light heavyweights agreed to the kind of unification match fans hunger for.
Maidana, 35-4 (31 KOs), stopped Josesito Lopez and Jesus Soto Karass. He decisioned Adrien Broner and made Floyd dig deeper than he’s had to dig in a long time when Mayweather defeated him by majority decision in May. Maidana has been maligned as a straight-ahead brawler who shows little finesse, but the Argentine is a brawler with quite decent speed who knows how to land his shots.
Algieri, 20-0 (8 KOs), is a tough Long Islander who moves in, out, and around but tries not to mix it up and is often far from the pocket. He’s coming up from light welter for the first time to challenge for Pacquiao’s WBO title. Algieri decisioned Mike Arnautis and Emmanuel Taylor before hometown crowds and jumped into the big-time when he eked out a majority decision against slug-master Ruslan Provodnikov in Brooklyn. Overruled that night was Californian Max DeLuca, who scored it for Provodnkiov by a vastly comfortable 117-109. I consider DeLuca one of the best judges in the world. Algieri toughed it out against the Russian with a closed, banged-up eye, but the majority judges appear to have been influenced by geography and an Algieri-friendly crowd.
Showman Arum is trying to play up the fact that Algieri is a college grad. That’s a nice accomplishment, but his degree is unlikely to cause any sleepless nights for Pacquiao or his trainer Freddie Roach.
New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman’s Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag was released in 2013 by Potomac Books. Watch for The Debtor Class: A Novel from Permanent Press in spring, 2015. More Information Here