Manny OKs catchweight at 144 lbs
Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - August 14, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao will be on the short end of the 144-pound catchweight limit of his title defense against Chris Algieri of New York at the Venetian Resort in Macau on Nov. 23 but what appears to be a disadvantage may be the edge that the Filipino ring icon could use in repulsing the undefeated challenger.

Catchweight refers to a weight agreed to by the protagonists under the traditional limit for a division. For instance, the welterweight limit is 147 pounds but since Algieri is moving up from the lightwelterweight class where the cap is 140, Pacquiao consented to a “compromise” of 144. In boxing history, the catchweight clause has been in effect since the 1895 fight between Kid Lavigne and Barbados Joe Walcott in New York. Joe Gans and Battling Nelson also fought at a catchweight limit in 1906 and so did Oscar de La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins in 2004 and last year, Floyd Mayweather and Saul Alvarez.

In Pacquiao’s case, he has fought four catchweight bouts. In 2008, he took on De la Hoya at a catchweight of 147. The next year, Pacquiao met Miguel Cotto at a catchweight of 145 and a year later, he faced Antonio Margarito at a catchweight of 151. No title was at stake in the De la Hoya fight but the Golden Boy had previously fought as a middleweight at 160 and lightmiddleweight at 154. Pacquiao weighed in at 142 for De la Hoya. Against Cotto, Pacquiao scaled 144 with the catchweight two pounds under the welterweight limit. Pacquiao stopped Cotto for the WBO welterweight crown. The WBC 154-pound lightmiddleweight title was on the line when Pacquiao battled Margarito. Pacquiao weighed in at 144 1/2 pounds and Margarito, 150. The Filipino shrugged off the weight disparity to score a convincing win on points. In 2011, Pacquiao defeated Juan Manuel Marquez on a majority decision at a catchweight of 144 pounds in a WBO welterweight title bout. The compromise was to accommodate Marquez moving up in weight.

While the catchweight clause was to Pacquiao’s advantage in three of four fights because opponents had to trim down, it won’t be the case against Algieri. Pacquiao weighed 145 pounds in his last two fights where he defeated Brandon Rios and Timothy Bradley. He was at his heaviest at 147 in losing to Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez, both in 2012. Algieri made his debut at 148 pounds in 2008 at the age of 24. He weighed his lightest at 140 in defeating Ruslan Provodnikov to win the WBO lightwelterweight crown in Brooklyn last June.

Pacquiao has had his way in the ring with speed and power. But Algieri, who is lighter, will be quicker on his feet and with his hands so that Pacquiao’s power will be critical for a win. Algieri has gone the distance in five of his last six outings and his record of 20-0, with 8 KOs, indicates a lack of power. Pacquiao’s experience and quality of opposition are factors that bookmakers considered in installing the Filipino a whopping 14-1 favorite. Pacquiao has figured in 63 bouts since turning pro in 1995 at 16 weighing 106 pounds. The Filipino’s record is 56-5-2, with 38 KOs. Pacquiao has a KO rate of 68 percent compared to Algieri’s 40 percent.

Because he’s on the short end of the catchweight, Pacquiao will scale down but is expected to be more lethal at 144 or less. He’ll be lighter on his feet even as his power remains intact. The disadvantage could be an edge for Pacquiao after all.

Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach described Algieri as a runner. “Manny doesn’t particularly like fighting guys who run so much,” he confided to David Greisman of “We’ll figure out a way to beat him. It’s not a problem. He’s got a good jab. That’s it. We’ll expose his weaknesses – we’ll show you. Out of the options we have, Algieri’s the best guy out there. He’s part of a new generation. He’s a world champion. It’s not a letdown at all.”

Algieri stands 5-10 compared to Pacquiao’s 5-6 1/2. The New Yorker also has a five-inch reach advantage. No doubt, Algieri will use his longer reach to rake Pacquiao with jabs and take away his punching space. Algieri won’t come forward as he will play a waiting game. For Pacquiao to establish control, he must be aggressive and put pressure on Algieri from the onset.

Top Rank chairman Bob Arum called Algieri “a major threat” to Pacquiao. “Algieri is a great boxer,” said Arum quoted by Jack Hirsch in Boxing News. “He knows his way around the ring.” Algieri told Hirsch that his style is “wrong” for Pacquiao. “He likes to dart in and out, picking his spots,” said Algieri who has a Master’s degree in Health Care Science from the New York Institute of Technology. “He does better with guys who move forward and cover up. They are tailor-made for him. Pacquiao was phenomenal at 126 pounds but lost something when he moved up in weight although you have to give him credit for staying on top for so long.”

Algieri has conveniently ignored the fact that since Pacquiao dominated the 126-pound ranks, he went on to win world titles in four heavier classes from lightweight to lightmiddleweight, in the process becoming the only fighter in history to win championships in eight different weight divisions.

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