Online sportsbooks have set Manny Pacquiao as a prohibitive favorite in his WBO Welterweight title fight November 22 against unbeaten American Chris Algieri. What is Pac-Man's plan to win in Macao?
Manny Pacquiao's brilliant career is winding down. Some say he’s already washed up at the age of 35. But Pacquiao still has some pop in those gloves – just ask Timothy Bradley, who lost the WBO Welterweight title to Pacquiao, though Pac-Man was a -345 favorite ($345 to win $100) in the rematch.
Pacquiao is set to defend his WBO welterweight strap on November 22 against Chris Algieri, the reigning WBO Light Welterweight titleholder, who’s moving up in class to fight Pac-Man at the Venetian in Macao at a catch-weight of 144 lbs. Algieri opened as a +770 underdog, before the market adjusted to an average of +600 ($100 bet pays $600).
Pacquiao as such a large favorite may make some bettors uncomfortable, with his knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez seeming like it was just yesterday (thanks internet memes), but does the Filipino boxing legend have a good enough game-plan to fend off little known Algieri?
Thanks to HBO’s extended coverage of both training camps and dozens of Youtubes, we’ve at least gained some insight into what Pacquiao might have in store for Algieri. It starts with a healthy dosage of psychological warfare: The champion has been talking up his opponent, calling Algieri “the most scientific, fluid and fittest fighter” he’s ever faced. Pac-Man compared Algieri's height and reach advantage to that of once feared pugilist Antonio Margarito.
Despite the praise Pac-Man has vowed he is about to deliver his "most impressive performance" yet, and head trainer Freddie Roach put an exclamation point on this by declaring their sparring partners as more dangerous than Algieri. They are equally confident in the Algieri corner, with chief trainer Tim Lane predicting a knockout, which will be an interesting betting market to consider once sportsbooks release the line.
David vs. Goliath: Pacquiao's keys to victory
Pacquiao is used to being the smaller fighter, and in this case he’s giving up 3.5 inches in height and five inches in reach. His work is cut out for him though as unlike flat-footed Antonio Margarito, Algieri is a smart and crafty boxer as he showcased in his coming out party against Ruslan Provodnikov. Algieri likely intends to pepper Pac-Man with his jab to keep him at bay while utilizing lateral movement.
Pacquiao will have to throw caution to the wind to penetrate the high guard of Algieri and to set up his left hand. As we saw in the first two rounds against Timothy Bradley in the rematch and every single fight against JMM, Pacquiao has all sorts of trouble dealing with good counter-punchers who are quick on their feet. Throw in Algieri's height advantage and the fact that he can use his jab to keep Pacquiao at bay and score points with easy pot shots, Pacquiao has no choice but to engage with combinations and let his hands go.
Great defense usually prevails against great offense, but don't overlook the significance of the 144 lb catch-weight. Pacquiao is moving down in weight so his speed advantage only gets greater at the more comfortable weight, while Algieri is moving up from 140 and is in new territory against the best opponent he's ever faced.
The Pick: Pacquiao executes his game-plan by standing in the pocket against Algieri, and dazzles the crowd en route to an easy victory.