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Why the burden's on Chris Algieri to carry promotion for Manny Pacquiao fight

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports
Chris Algieri
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Chris Algieri, right, lands a punch against Ruslan Provodnikov in their June fight. (Ed Mulholland/HBO)

Social media erupted, with the usual vitriol being spewed toward Top Rank chairman Bob Arum and WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao, shortly after news broke Wednesday that Pacquiao will fight Chris Algieri on Nov. 22 in Macau, China.

Despite his win over Ruslan Provodnikov on HBO on June 14, Algieri remains largely unknown to the masses. Hence, the outrage. And he's not a big puncher, so those who do know him aren't happy for that reason.

This clearly isn't a fight fans have been clamoring for or are desperate to see.

Algieri has a lot of attributes that could make him a pay-per-view attraction: He's a good-looking, highly educated, well-spoken guy who is willing to fight anyone. He has a Bachelor of Science in health care sciences and a master's in clinical nutrition from the New York Institute of Technology. He aspires to become a doctor.

But he's a pure boxer and, if he has his way, the fight with Pacquiao is not going to be a toe-to-toe slugfest that puts people on the edge of their seats.

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Manny Pacquiao, left, throws punches during his April win over Timothy Bradley. (AP Photo)

Manny Pacquiao, left, throws punches during his April win over Timothy Bradley. (AP Photo)

And so Pacquiao, Algieri and Arum are taking it on the chin from boxing fans for what they perceive as a poor match.

The problem that none of those blasting the bout is willing to acknowledge, however, is that it is the fractured nature of the sport that has led to this fight being made.

When Richard Schaefer resigned as CEO of Golden Boy Promotions on June 2, many took it as a sign that the longstanding "Cold War" between Golden Boy and Top Rank was over. And, indeed, one of the sticking points between Schaefer and Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya was De La Hoya's insistence on reaching out to Arum and trying to get the companies to work together again.

With the bitterly anti-Arum Schaefer out of the way, it appeared the fights that fans had dreamed of seeing would start to be made.

Eventually, that will be the case. But an arbitration hearing that has yet to be scheduled between Schaefer and Golden Boy, as well as a lawsuit by Main Events against powerful manager Al Haymon and GBP, will slow that process.

Top Rank is unable, at this stage, to make fights with Golden Boy-promoted or Haymon-managed fighters because of the legal situation.

That eliminated such potential Pacquiao opponents as Amir Khan, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia, Robert Guerrero and Lucas Matthysse, among others.

Now, look at Top Rank's stable: Pacquiao has already fought Juan Manuel Marquez four times. He's fought Timothy Bradley twice. He's already beaten Brandon Rios.

Jessie Vargas is a new world champion and would have been a possibility, but he's less known on the major stage than Algieri. Vargas has talent, but he is still a young and developing fighter, probably not nearly ready for the likes of Pacquiao.

Two other possibilities for Pacquiao, according to Arum, were Mike Alvarado, who was drilled by Marquez the last time out and who has lost three of his last four, and Luis Carlos Abregu.

Abregu is 36-1 with 29 knockouts but, unlike Algieri, isn't a world champion. His only loss was by one-sided decision to Bradley on July 17, 2010. In the four years since, he hasn't fought high-level opposition, with wins over Walter Diaz, Javier Mamani, Pedro Verdu, Marco Antonio Avendano, Thomas Dulorme, Antonin Decarie and Jean Carlos Prada.

It's unlikely that the fan base would have found a Pacquiao-Abregu match any more interesting than a Pacquiao-Algieri fight. And because Algieri can speak English and help promote the bout in the U.S., where it is going to need plenty of help to sell pay-per-views, he made more sense than Abregu.

Algieri chuckles quietly at the hubbub. He heard it before his bout with Provodnikov, when many were openly expressing concern for his safety against the power-punching Russian.

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Algieri has a bachelor's degree in health care science and a master's in nutrition, and aspires to become a doctor. (Ed Mulholland/HBO)

Algieri has a bachelor's degree in health care science and a master's in nutrition, and aspires to become a doctor. …

He's an easy-going guy who believes he'll be able to convert at least some of the fan base once the promotion for the fight begins in earnest.

"It doesn't bother me," Algieri said. "Those are uneducated fans. Once the press tour happens, and the media starts talking about me, and my camp revs up and everyone sees the things I bring to the table, there will be more interest in the fight. The people who are saying that are the same ones who were saying that before Provodnikov. They didn't know me."

That, in a way, is the problem. Pay-per-view is all about name recognition and at this level, Algieri has little of it.

He faces a massive challenge, because he has to train for what will be the biggest fight of his life. He'll make in excess of $1.5 million to fight Pacquiao, or about 15 times the largest purse he's ever made.

He will need to be primed to face by far the most talented opponent of his career while largely carrying the promotion of the fight in the U.S. Pacquiao is likely to train in the Philippines, which is two hours from Macau, and won't be regularly available to U.S. media.

Algieri plans to start his training camp at home in New York, before likely moving it to Las Vegas. Given Pacquiao's unavailability to American media, Algieri will have an enormous workload and a slew of reporters coming into his camp.

He says he enjoyed the build-up to the Provodnikov fight and sees no issues adding on in order to promote the fight with Pacquiao. Plus, he's confident in his ability to not only sell it, but actually win it.

"He's a different guy than Ruslan, but I think the style matchup is good for me," Algieri said of facing the Pacman. "The size, the way he moves, where he is at this point in his career. He's never fought a guy who is as big or as athletic as I am."

Pacquiao couldn't be reached for comment, and with him tucked away in the Philippines, that's likely to be an ongoing concern for American media during the promotion. As a result, this will likely be the Chris Algieri Show during the build-up.

It's hard to see the fight doing more than 350,000 pay-per-view sales, unless Algieri gets out and can push the bout toward the 450,000 number that Pacquiao reached with Rios.

A bout between Pacquiao and Thurman would have gotten a lot more positive vibe on social media. But that ignores the business realities of making the fight, as well as the fact that Thurman has no higher of a public profile than Algieri.

It's why there is seemingly a love/hate relationship with boxing. As the song said, you can't always get what you want.

It's Pacquiao-Algieri you have to take, and it's Algieri's job to sell it.

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