Not too many insiders are giving Chris Algieri a chance in his upcoming WBO Welterweight championship fight against Manny Pacquiao, but if Algieri sticks to his game plan, he could defy the boxing odds against him and take home the title.
Chris Algieri has never lost a fight as a professional, and after going 20-0 as a kickboxer, he is now 20-0 using just his fists. Even with such an impressive record, Algieri finds himself listed as a +600 underdog for his Nov. 22 fight against Manny Pacquiao, with the WBO Welterweight title on the line at the Venetian in Macau. While most boxing observers will agree that the veteran Pacquiao has more skills at his disposal; Aligieri has both the size and age advantage, and we could go as far to say that he is a smarter fighter. This is a fight that Algieri can win as long as he sticks to his game plan.
So what is the game plan? Unless we have a good idea what Algieri’s strategy is going into the match, we won’t be able to envision how the evening may progress and how we should bet. Not to worry; there aren’t too many secrets when it comes to Algieri’s basic approach, and the size difference between himself and Pacquiao will naturally dictate much of the fight.
3 Ways Algieri Will Look to Win this Fight
1. Move: Algieri is younger and more mobile than other taller fighters that Pacquiao has faced. This is where his wrestling and kickboxing background can really pay off.
2. Jab: With a decided height and reach advantage over Pacquiao, it would be foolish for Algieri to abandon his chief weapon. He landed 20 percent of his jabs against Provodnikov’s 12 percent, and at a much higher volume, to steal the decision and the Light Welterweight title.
3. Counter: Algieri can’t live by the jab alone. He’ll have to mix in some power punches, but selective aggression will be the key to victory. Pacquiao has to come inside to win this fight; Algieri will have the opportunity to land counterpunches where appropriate, much like Juan Manuel Marquez did in the 2012 fight.
A Tall Glass of Punch
When looking at the size advantage, Algieri has more than just a slight upper hand. He is officially listed at 5-foot-10 with a 72-inch reach; he’s the reigning WBO World Light Welterweight champion at 140 pounds, so most of his fights have been against smaller opponents. Pacquiao is typical of those fighters at 5-foot-6 1/2 with a 67-inch reach. We can expect to see Algieri use his range, as he clearly stated this in last month’s interview with RingTV.com.
“I’m not going to say that I’m going to stay at long range the whole time,” Algieri insisted, “because I can fight on the inside as well. But I need to be at the appropriate range and to dictate when and where we do that.” Algieri has often said he prefers to knock out opponents, but only eight of his fights have ended in that fashion. For this reason he will look to play defense against the iron chinned Pacquiao, meaning that a KO victory in his favor is highly unlikely.
This is the same game plan that Algieri relied on when he fought Ruslan Provodnikov for the Light Welterweight title back in June. Provodnikov (5-foot-6, 66-inch reach) got to Algieri early, scoring two knockdowns, and all but put the fight in the bag after three rounds. Algieri, with his right eye swelling shut, managed to weather the storm and eventually out-scored his tiring opponent in a controversial split decision.
It’s fair to say that the judges might have gotten that decision wrong, but that is not the point here. What matters is that Algieri stuck to his game plan, and put himself in position to win the fight and pay out generously at odds of +500.
His ability to remain composed, even with his back to the ropes, made all of the difference in We could see him do the same thing at the Venetian, and with online sportsbooks listing him as a heavy dog, this could lead to another big evening for those willing to take the risk.
Keeping Manny From Getting Inside
His size can be his greatest advantage, but only if he uses it correctly. Pacquaio will need to get inside of Algieri's reach to be effective, but if Chris can stay light on his feet and effectively use his jab to keep Manny at a distance, he can take a greater command of this fight's pace. When Pacquaio is able to work his way inside, Algieri will have to resort to carefully timed counter punches, which should help to create the space he needs to implement his game plan. As the fight progresses, Algieri will also look to use his size advantage to wrap Pacquaio up, forcing the referree to seperate the clinched fighters. If keeping Manny at a distance is the plan, all of these tactics must be used perfectly to orchestrate a victory.
“My coaches have done a tremendous amount of studying up on Manny Pacquiao’s style and reviewing tape and going over the right strategy,” Algieri told RingTV.com. “Manny is a master at what he does and we just have to take control of that. We have to take control of the ring and be a ring general and keep him off balance.”
Then again, Pacquiao is by any estimation a vastly superior fighter to Provodnikov, and while the difference in height and reach will be similar, the Welterweight bout with Pacquiao is being fought at a catchweight of 144 pounds. This is a significant advantage for the champion. Pacquiao has plenty of experience fighting at under 147 pounds, while the skinny Algieri could find it difficult to bulk up effectively at age 30.
More Power to You
The stats clearly show just how different of a challenge Algieri is facing in Macau. Pacquiao is the most powerful opponent the New Yorker has ever fought; according to BoxStat, Pac-Man checks in at 72.4 percent for punching power, well ahead of Algieri at 59.4 percent. On the whole, Algieiri’s past opponents only brought 26.4 percent power to the ring. But they have been getting progressively stronger; Provodnikov is listed at 71.1 percent power.
At the same time, Algieri is quite different from the other taller fighters Pacquiao has faced, most notably Antonio Margarito (5-foot-11, 73-inch reach) and Oscar De La Hoya (5-foot-10 1/2, 73-inch reach), both of whom were past their prime. Both Margartio (69.4 percent) and De La Hoya (74.1 percent) were much more powerful than Algieri, but not nearly as athletic and mobile. This is why Algieri and his outstanding left jab could prevail at the Venetian over his superior opponent.
While online sportsbooks agree that an Algieri victory is improbable, the American does has enough natural advantages in this matchup, meaning that he can’t be completely written off. If you had bet on the challenger when the opening boxing odds priced him at +770, there might have been some value there. However, +600 just isn’t going to cut it in our estimation.
Our Pick: Take Pacquiao –750 at 5Dimes