I can actually see it now.
Grey hoodie and sweat pants complete with a towel around his neck while running at a brisk pace through the streets of Long Island in his very best "Rocky" impersonation. The town of Huntington in Long Island, seemingly one of the last real towns in the nation with a true small town feel, must be ecstatic over the recent good fortunes of native Chris Algieri.
Although I cover boxing representing New York through this .com - which has lead to some really good fortune for a lot of writers trying to move on to more lucrative pastures, soon including myself - I wasn't able to actually interview Chris as I'd requested following his dramatic and gutsy win over Ruslan Provodnikov.
Hell, I would still chase him around the streets just like the rest of the locals would ala the scene from "Rocky", if I saw him jogging in preparation for Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao this November in China. Like the legendary fight film fictional character, Chris toiled in anonymity as a relative unknown before hitting the bigtime. But unlike Rocky, he wasn't just given some shot by a superstar world champion.
He earned it against a basic real one in Provodnikov.
Admittedly, I had never heard of Chris before his improbable victory of Provodnikov. And when I started watching tape on him, I didn't think he'd be really easy at all for "Provo" (welp, that's what I call him) to deal with, but I never expected him to win either. I stated as much in an article previewing a Pacquiao vs. Provodnikov fight, which is exactly what would have happened had Chris not been so damn brave and ballsy in matadoring the mighty Russian.
For the record, count me among those who still don't think he really beat Provodnikov. Still, he poses an interesting fight for Manny for several reasons. Pacquiao hasn't really faced a prime boxer with solid boxing skills and length since his initial losing effort against Mexican great Erik Morales.
The length of Morales (like Algieri he had a 72 inch reach he used to full effect) bothered Pacquiao, in addition to his subtle movement and ability to time the manic daredevil with well placed shots. While Chris is not the thumper Morales was, he punches hard enough to warrant respect, plus he'll lean on the jab much more. Throw in the fact that he moves with so much more frequency, and this is an interesting fight that will contain high entertainment value.
Chris isn't going to pull an Erislandy Lara and try to become a track star. No. Lara was a disgrace to boxing for running the way he did against Alvarez (and he had the audacity to compare his style to Floyd Mayweather's. No asshole, Mayweather fights, you run!).
....I'm now pausing to work the memory of Lara's stinkfest OUT of my system (I take a deep breath and reach for a glass of water)
Chris is not only brave, but his pride and belief in himself makes me believe this will probably result in one of the more visually pleasing fights you've ever seen from Pacquiao. One of the things that made the Maidana fight one of the best you've ever seen involving Mayweather, was that Maidana was adamant about fighting his fight - not Floyd's.
Algieri will be absolutely determined to outbox Pacquiao, while understanding it takes a fair degree of offense to win not only rounds but the fight itself. But can Chris, a former decorated kickboxer with only 20 pro bouts under his belt, handle the experienced mania that Manny presents at the top of the game's summit?
Well let's not forget Rocky also dies too.
Not in a literal sense, but in figurative terms of ability. No man could ever do what Balboa did, but I don't know of any other fighter being able to pull off a fight of this magnitude like Algieri has with all the subplots. His is a story with elements of Hollywood all over it, replete with Channing Tatum like looks and a clear path to a career in medicine. Its a story that's almost as improbable as Pacquiao's still unfolding one.
The eight division world champion and reigning WBO welterweight champion seems to remember where he came from as of late, even if he'll never quite go back to what he was.
I keep hearing people say he's lost killer instinct or that he's slowed down considerably. They're saying this because he hasn't stopped anyone since his November 2009 mauling of Miguel Cotto, and that's deceptive. Get a different referee in the Cotto fight and that fight could've very well went the distance. Just like a different referee in the Margarito fight could've stopped that one.
Pacquiao has never been more than a super lightweight to me, which makes his wins over Clottey, Margarito, Mosley and Marquez impressive in their own ways. He seemed very distracted against Bradley in the first encounter though he clearly won it, and his 4th fight with Marquez is still the best Pacquiao I'd seen since Cotto prior to having his plug pulled.
Pacquiao showed against Rios what he is still capable of doing to a solid, one-dimensional B-list fighter of aggression, and grinded an A-list talent in Timothy Bradley to clear defeat this past April.
Algieri doesn't possess the same skill set as Bradley nor does he hit as hard. He's the longest "boxer" Pacquiao will have faced with the most movement, turning Manny into a dynamic stalker of sorts. Algieri is brainy in there with lots of guile, but he doesn't have exceptional hand or foot speed, and fights with a certain stiffness that will limit his escape routes.
Pacquiao's offense is still something special to behold. His combination punching and creative shot-making ability all revolves around his incredible footwork, and Algieri won't be able to do anything about this. He'll box very well at times giving Pacquiao some trouble with his movement and length; but will run into a punishing body assault, run out of space, get struck at will as the fight progresses and eventually stopped.
Doing nothing to diminish his appeal in the process, Chris Algieri will make a great - if not spectacular, account of himself before being halted in the 10th round as "Pac Man" successfully defends his WBO welterweight title in Macua, China.