Manny out for convincing win
Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - November 2, 2014 - 12:00am

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao declined the other day to predict a knockout victory over unbeaten challenger Chris Algieri in their scheduled 12-round title bout at the Cotai Arena in the Venetian Resort Macau on Nov. 23 but said he’s going all out for a convincing win.

“I’m not predicting a knockout only that I want to win convincingly,” said Pacquiao after a gruelling workout that included nine rounds with three imported sparmates, three rounds on the speedball, three rounds on the heavy bag, eight rounds of mitts, 10 uninterrupted minutes on the jump rope, three rounds of shadow boxing, at least 30 minutes of abs drills and skipping steps on a hopscotch-like floor grid laid out by conditioning coach Justin Fortune.

While Pacquiao isn’t taking Algieri lightly, he hinted that negotiations are now going on for his next fight. Asked if a much-awaited showdown with Floyd Mayweather is in the works, he declined to reply. “I don’t want to bring up Floyd’s name because he might think I’m using him to market my fight against Algieri,” said Pacquiao. “After the Algieri fight, then we can talk about Floyd or any other fighter. At the moment, my main and only focus is Algieri.”

Pacquiao met with Manila visitors Dioceldo Sy and Wilbert Loa while taking his recovery food of chicken tinola, malunggay and rice in a private office in the building where he trains in this South Cotabato city. Pacquiao welcomed Sy warmly as their friendship goes back to the late 1990s when the fighter was still a fledgling contender. Sy is chairman of Ever Bilena and owner of the PBA franchise Blackwater Elite.

Pacquiao said he’s excited to battle Algieri and can’t wait for fight night. “It’s three more weeks,” he said. “I’m ready to go. My training is on schedule. It’s like old times with Freddie (Roach) and Justin.”

Pacquiao likened Algieri to Mexico’s Jorge Solis whom he stopped in eight rounds in San Antonio, Texas, in 2007, with Roach and Fortune in his corner. “Similar styles,” mused Pacquiao. “Algieri is tall like (Antonio) Margarito but they don’t fight alike. Algieri fights more like Solis. They’re tall and they like to jab.” Algieri is 5-10, four inches taller than Pacquiao, and has a 72-inch wingspan, five more than the Filipino’s. Solis is 5-8 with a 69-inch reach.

While Algieri is the first fighter he’ll face with a Master’s degree, Pacquiao said he’s not impressed. Algieri has a Master’s degree in Health Care Science from the New York Institute of Technology. “So what if Algieri has a Master’s degree?” Pacquiao said. “I have a Master’s degree in boxing. I’ve been fighting since 1995. I’ve done over 60 fights. My experience speaks for itself. I also have a doctorate, honoris causa, in human kinetics from Southwestern University (Cebu).”

Pacquiao said he’s not sure if combinations will work against Algieri. “I expect him to run,” he said. “I have to stop him from running. I know what I have to do. If I throw 1-2-3-4 combinations, I don’t think he’ll just stand to get hit. I’ll chase him down, maybe attack the body so he loses his quickness. But if he’s quick, I think I’m quicker.”

Pacquiao will head a party of 12 in a private jet provided by the Venetian Resort Macau to fly over on Nov. 17. He said the plan is to depart from Macau the day after the fight which will be held on a Sunday morning to air on prime time in the US for the pay-per-view market. “On Monday night, I want to go back to the gym, this time to play basketball,” he said. “I’m excited to play in the PBA.”

Pacquiao is playing coach of the PBA club Kia Sorento. The entire team will sit on the second row of his fight against Algieri. “Basketball is not a difficult sport,” he said. “To win, players just have to execute and do what they’re supposed to. With our team, we have different plays which we identify by color like we call this color if we want to stick close to shooters or if we trap or whatever. I always tell my players they shouldn’t be intimidated, that this is their time to prove what they can do as basketball players.”

Pacquiao said he owes it to Kia management for the trust in whipping up a competitive squad. “My name is on the line,” he said. “I’m grateful to Kia for giving me a free hand to put this team together from the coaches to the players. Our goal is to make it to the next round. We’ve got one win so far, we’ll need at least two more to make sure we don’t get eliminated right away.”

In the PBA Philippine Cup tournament format, the 12 teams play a single elimination round then the last two finishers bow out. The top two advance to the semifinals outright while the remaining eight teams battle in the two-stage quarterfinals.     

Pacquiao said he’ll show up for Kia’s last three games in the eliminations against Purefoods on Nov. 26, Meralco on Dec. 3 and NLEX on Dec. 7. “Even when I’m not around, I’m in contact with our coaches by phone during games,” he said. “I’m watching on TV in GenSan and I’m telling the coaches whom to bring in and bring out, what plays to call.”

Pacquiao played only in the first quarter of Kia’s PBA debut against Blackwater before 52,612 fans at the Philippine Arena last Oct. 19. The Sorento won, 80-66. With two minutes left and the game on ice, Pacquiao said he declined to check back in. “My focus was on Algieri,” he said. “I promised Freddie I wouldn’t do anything crazy on the court, like risk an injury. I couldn’t play my usual game. In the barangays and regional leagues, I’m used to playing rough basketball. But with the Algieri fight coming up, I couldn’t risk making contact. It will be different after the fight when I return to play in the PBA.”


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