By: William Holmes
Saturday night will feature the last boxing pay per view of 2014 as Manny Pacquiao looks to defend his WBO Welterweight title against Long Island native Chris Algieri from Macau, China.
Macau has quickly become a favorite destination of Top Rank promotions as they have put on several cards there recently, but fight fans in China will have to wake up early in the morning to watch the fight so that fight fans in the United States can watch it in the evening.
Four fights will be televised on Saturday night, including two other title fights featuring Jessie Vargas and Vasyl Lomachenko. China’s favorite star Zou Shiming will also be featured in a WBO Flyweight eliminator.
The following is a preview of all four televised fights.
Jessie Vargas (25-0) vs. Antonio DeMarco (31-3-1); WBO Junior Welterweight Title
Jessie Vargas has been rumored as a possible opponent for Manny Pacquiao as he decides to drop back down to the junior welterweight division. Vargas is a dangerous, young, and talented fighter, but he will have one of the toughest bouts of his career on Saturday.
On paper, this looks to be the most competitive matchup of the night. Both Vargas and DeMarco are in their athletic primes. Vargas is twenty-five and DeMarco is twenty-eight. They are the same height and have the same reach. However, Vargas has the more impressive amateur background as he was a Mexican and US amateur champion and he was a member of the 2008 Mexican Olympic Team. DeMarco has not achieved any amateur success on the international stage of note, but he does have four more years of experience as a professional than Vargas.
Vargas the edge in boxing technique and defensive ability, but DeMarco has considerable more stopping power. DeMarco has twenty-three stoppage victories on his record, including four of his past five victories. Vargas only has nine stoppage victories on his record and he won his past nine fights by decision.
Even though they have the same height and reach, DeMarco has spent most of his career fighting in the lightweight division. Two of Demarco’s three losses have come by stoppage to the late Edwin Valero and Adrien Broner. His other loss came early in his career to the relatively unknown Anthony Vasquez. DeMarco’s notable victories include John Molina, Jorge Linares, Daniel Attah, and Miguel Roman.
Vargas doesn’t always put on the most exciting fights, but he’s rarely in trouble. Josesito Lopez was able to take him the distance in a split decision loss, but other than that he tends to win by a wide margin on the judges’ scorecards. He has beaten the likes of an undefeated Anton Novikov, Khabib Allakhverdiev, Ray Narh, Wale Omotoso, Vivian Harris, and Steve Forbes.
If DeMarco can catch Vargas’ chin early on in the fight he could pull off the upset, but it’s likely Vargas will win a clear decision victory.
Vasyl Lomachenko (2-1) vs. Chonlatam Piriyapinyo (55-1); WBO Featherweight Title
This fight is perhaps the biggest mismatch of the night, as two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and two time World Amateur Champion Vasyl Lomachenko takes on his mandatory challenger Chonlatam Piriyapinyo.
Lomachenko will be three years younger than his opponent and will also have a slight height and reach advantage. Lomachenko has only fought three times, but he started his professional career by fighting and stopping a tough Jose Ramirez in his first fight and then losing a close split decision to the rugged Orlando Salido in his second fight.
Salido failed to make weight for his fight for Lomachenko, so he got to fight for the title again against the then undefeated Gary Russell Jr. in June of this year. Russell was an amateur standout in his own right, but Lomachenko clearly won the bout with a majority decision.
Lomachenko dominated the featherweight division as an amateur from 2008 to 2012 and is a legitimate world title holder in only his third professional fight.
Little is known of his opponent, Chonlatam Piriyapinyo, in the United States. Piriyapinyo has an impressive record and has stopped thirty three of his opponents, but his past five victories include wins over a 1-10 opponent and a 2-2 opponent. Saturday will also be the second time that Piriyapinyo has ever fought outside his native Thailand.
Piriyapinyo did step up in competition once when he faced the legendary Chris John in Singapore for the WBA Featherweight title in 2012. He lost to Chris John by a wide margin with scores of 119-109, 119-109, and 117-111.
Lomachenko should defeat Piriyapinyo rather easily and by a wide margin, but he’ll likely be looking for an eye opening knockout.
Zou Shiming (5-0) vs. Kwanpichit Onesongchaigym (27-0-2); WBO Flyweight Eliminator
Zou Shiming is another two-time Olympic Gold Medalist singed to Top Rank Promotions. He is also a three time World Amateur Champion and has dominated the light flyweight division as an amateur for several years.
However, most ringside observers feel Shiming has a lower ceiling as a professional than Lomachenko and Shiming has yet to fight outside of the comforts of China.
Shiming will have about two-and-a-half inch height advantage over the Thailand born Kwanpichit Onesongchaigym. Onesongchaigym has no notable amateur record, but has significantly more professional experience.
Shiming turned professional at a late age and is the same age as Onesongchaigym. He has looked like he has been improving as a professional under the tutelage of Freddie Roach. Shiming’s best victory was against a bout with tough Luis De Le Rosa that went all twelve rounds, but Shiming has easily defeated all of his opponents as a professional so far.
Onesongchaigym has the best record of any opponent that Shiming has faced, but Onesongchaigym’s resume is lacking any big notable victories. Onesongchaigym only has twelve stoppage victories on his resume and his best victory to date was over Jay-ar Estremos in February of 2014 to win the WBO Oriental Flyweight title. Onesongchaigym has also never fought outside of Thailand.
Shiming won’t be matched up with an opponent with a realistic shot at beating him this early in his career, especially since he opens up the Chinese market for Top Rank Promotions. Onesongchaigym has a puncher’s chance, but Shiming should outclass him.
Manny Pacquiao (56-5) vs. Chris Algieri (20-0); WBO Welterweight Title
Pacquiao’s upcoming bout with Chris Algieri doesn’t seem to be carrying as much hype as Pacquiao’s previous fights, and that’s mainly due to the perception by many that Algieri is a greatly overmatched opponent.
Pacquaio has over twice the amount of professional fights as Algieri and has eighteen more knockouts than Algieri has fights. Pacquiao has also faced the best boxing has to offer since 2001 and has reigned as a world champion in eight different weight classes, while Algieri only been a world champion in one.
Pacquiao has also fought all over the world. He has fought in Las Vegas, Dallas, Manilla, Macao, Tennessee, Thailand, and even Japan. Saturday will be the first time Algieri has ever fought outside of the state of New York.
Algieri, however, holds several advantages over Pacquiao. He has not been in nearly as many wars and his body has not had to suffer the physical punishment of Pacquiao. He’s five years younger than Pacquiao, and Pacquiao has recently begun to show that he is aging inside the ring.
Most importantly, Algieri has a three-and-a-half-inch height advantage and a five-inch reach advantage over the Filipino southpaw.
Algieri does not have an amateur boxing pedigree that most world champions have, but he was an undefeated kickboxing champion and he was a world champion kickboxer before turning professional, a la Vitali Klitschko.
Algieri does not have the power to put fear in Pacquiao’s camp of a stunning stoppage such as the one he suffered against Juan Manuel Marquez. However, Algieri showed he can take a punch, as when he faced the hard hitting Ruslan Provodnikov, and he surprised many when he easily defeated Emmanuel Taylor, a boxer who later gave Adrien Broner a very tough fight.
If Algieri can box a smart fight, solve the movement of Pacquiao and stay sharp with his jab, he has a chance at winning this fight.
But, it’s a small chance, and he’ll be in fighting in front of judges that will most likely be favorable to Pacquiao.
Pacquiao showed a new wrinkle in his game when he defeated Timothy Bradley in April of this year by out-boxing Bradley and picking his attacks wisely. He showed that he can still out-manoeuver most boxers when he soundly defeated Brandon Rios in November of last year. His chin is still questionable since his knockout loss to Marquez, but Algieri does not have the power to stop Pacquiao.
Pacquiao should win on Saturday and win easily. But if he’s having difficulty with Algieri’s jab in the first few rounds, it could be a long night for the Filipino slugger.