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Fortune cites Algieri’s courage

Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - November 3, 2014 - 12:00am

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Strength and conditioning guru Justin Fortune said the other day from what he saw on TV, Chris Algieri beat Russia’s Ruslan Provodnikov fair and square to earn the right to challenge WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao in Macau on Nov. 23.

“I realize what you see on TV could be different from what actually happens in the ring,” said Fortune who is in this South Cotabato city to whip Pacquiao into tip-top shape for his title defense against the unbeaten Algieri. “On TV, sometimes you get influenced by the commentators which is why I mute my set when watching fights. I don’t really listen to commentators as a rule but the one TV analyst I like is Paulie Malignaggi who gives you a fighter’s perspective. Anyway, I thought Algieri beat Provodnikov, he won it on balls and ring generalship. After all, he survived two knockdowns in the first round and a swollen right eye to go the distance.”

Algieri wrested the WBO lightwelterweight title from Provodnikov on a split decision in New York last June 14. That paved the way for Algieri to book the fight with Pacquiao. He earned $100,000 for fighting the Russian but against Pacquiao, the 5-10 stylist has been promised a paycheck of at least $1 Million, the biggest in his career.

Fortune, 48, said conditioning will be a key factor in determining the outcome of Pacquiao’s coming bout. “When Algieri gets hit and feels Manny’s power, you know he’s going to run,” said Fortune. “Manny’s got to be in shape to chase him down. I guarantee Manny wins the fight but I won’t predict how he’ll get it done. Manny’s a machine and he’ll come to the fight ready to go 12 rounds if necessary. He’s been absolutely phenomenal in the gym, working harder than ever.”

Fortune worked five years with Pacquiao until his knockout win over Jorge Solis in San Antonio in 2007. He split up with Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach on a financial dispute and opened his own gym on Sunset Boulevard a year later. Pacquiao recalled Fortune for his fight against Brandon Rios last year. Fortune was in Pacquiao’s corner when the Filipino icon regained the WBO crown from Timothy Bradley last April.

“Freddie was my trainer when I fought so we’ve known each other for years,” said Fortune. “We’re like a married couple. We had a disagreement that led to a separation but now, everything’s good. We don’t lose together. It’s like old times.” Roach and Fortune worked Pacquiao’s corner when the Filipino scored sensational knockouts over Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales twice.

Roach was in Fortune’s corner when he took on Lennox Lewis in Dublin in 1995. Referee Roy Francis stopped the fight in the fourth round after Lewis landed three straight uppercuts, sending Fortune to the canvas. Fortune got up without a count but Francis waved it off.

“I gave Francis a piece of my mind, that’s for sure,” said Fortune. “I could’ve gone on. A few months before, Gerald McClellan lost consciousness in a fight against Nigel Benn. And Francis was the same referee when Michael Watson lost consciousness after a beating from Chris Eubank. I thought Francis stopped my fight against Lewis too soon. He was probably worried something like McClellan or Watson would happen again. I was furious. When I entered the ring and saw Lewis, I told myself man, he’s big. But when the bell rang, I didn’t care. I went in there to fight, no matter what.”

McClellan is now totally blind and 80 percent deaf, the result of the battering he took from Benn while Watson was in a coma for 40 days, underwent six brain surgeries and is paralyzed.

Lewis was eight inches taller than Fortune at 6-5 but the Australian said a taller fighter loses 20 percent of his power punching down. Fortune said he was paid $250,000 for the bout. Roach said his paycheck as Fortune’s trainer was less than what was paid for his plane ticket from Los Angeles to Dublin and back. “One thing I remember from that experience was meeting Steve Collins,” said Roach. Collins became one of 34 world champions whom Roach has worked with in a 27-year career as a six-time Trainer of the Year awardee.

Fortune said Pacquiao’s body is a wonder. “His metabolism is incredible,” said Fortune who wound up his boxing career with a record of 15-9-2, including 9 KOs. “Manny misses one meal and his weight drops. They should bring Manny to a university and study his anatomy.”

Regarding Nonito Donaire’s loss to Nicholas Walters recently, Fortune said he watched it on TV with Roach and friends. “Donaire’s 31 so I think it might be difficult to drop down from 126 to 122 or 118 as he plans to do,” he said. “It’ll be up to him if he’s willing to do the work and sacrifice. If he continues fighting just for the money, he could end up getting hurt and nobody wants that. Donaire’s eyes have been badly damaged in his last few fights, that’s a real concern. I don’t know what headgear he uses in sparring but I notice fighters now use headgear that practically covers up their entire face. I’m old school. Boxing is a tough sport. I think boxers should look like boxers, they should get used to their faces getting hit. If you protect your face too much in sparring, there’s a good chance you’ll get cut up during a fight because your face isn’t tough enough to take the hits. It’s a problem if a boxer doesn’t want to look like a boxer.”

ALGIERI BRANDON RIOS CHRIS ALGIERI CHRIS EUBANK DONAIRE FIGHT FORTUNE FREDDIE ROACH JORGE SOLIS PACQUIAO
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