It is official. Manny Pacquiao will fight unbeaten Chris Algieri on November 22. Algieri earned his shot by beating the hard-hitting Ruslan Provodnikov. He was never on Pacquiao's list. After his upset win over Provodnikov the fans were expecting a rematch, but Pacquiao was in bad need of a dance parter.
With Juan Manuel Marquez afraid to fight Pacquiao again (especially with random blood testing), Pacquiao had no other option and Chris Algieri happened to be at the right place at the right time.
On November 22, Algieri may yet again find himself at the right place at the right time. He will undoubtedly be the underdog but that only sets the stage for an upset. On paper this may look like a mismatch, but there are three things we must consider.
First is that Algieri is a tough nut to crack. He proved that against Provodnikov. He's got the heart to fight through adversity and withstand Pacquiao's assault.
Second is that Algieri is nearly six feet tall. It wouldn't be the first time Pacquiao will face someone that tall. Antonio Margarito was about the same height and Oscar De La Hoya was only slightly shorter. However unlike Margarito, Algieri is very slick. He has good movement and a good jab. His face isn't his first option for blocking punches. Unlike De La Hoya, Algieri is in his prime and would not be draining himself to make weight.
Third and and perhaps most importantly, Pacquiao will be almost 36 years old on fight night. It's not so much the age but the fact that he's been in too many wars. Each time he steps into the ring could be the night that it all falls apart for him.
Anything is possible. Algieri is not much of a puncher but his ridiculous size advantage combined with Pacquiao's natural featherweight frame and vulnerable chin could spell disaster for Pacquiao. If Pacquiao has trouble getting past Algieri's reach, he could get reckess and walk right into a punch.
This is the opportunty of a lifetime that can motivate Algieri to elevate his game even for just one night and have his Buster Douglas moment.
So what happens if Algieri wins? If Pacquiao gets knocked out it is over for him. It's a small miracle that he was able to bounce back from the Marquez fight, but there's no coming back from another knockout loss. If Pacquiao loses by a wide decision, then he's done, too. If it's an entertaining, action-packed bout then maybe the Pacquiao show can still go on.
There was a time in boxing where a loss was just a loss and the next fight was just another fight and not a "comeback."
Still, Pacquiao better win this one and win it big if he wants to stay relevant and keep hopes alive for a Mayweather showdown, especially when Mayweather himself seems to be finally coming around and has teased about a "big announcement" for May 2015.
But first things first. Pacquiao should not look past Algieri. Pacquiao has been the underdog on more than a few occasions and should know better than anyone the importance of not taking any opponent lightly. Then again, it may not matter come fight night if Chris Algieri could help it.