MACAU - Chris Algieri and his support team are scary confident as the fight week countdown begins for Saturday night's WBO welterweight title battle with legendary eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao at the Venetian Macao.
Either Algieri is going to score one of the great upsets in boxing history, or he's building himself up for an epic letdown. But there's absolutely no mistaking the "all-in" attitude Algieri and trainers Keith Trimble and Tim Lane displayed at a meeting Monday night with a small group of international boxing journalists.
Algieri has his game face on in the gym, where he has been razor sharp against a group of sparring partners that includes former world champ Zab Judah, a slick southpaw brought in to mimic Pacquiao. But publicly, the 30-year-old from Greenlawn is buoyant amid the big-fight trappings.
Surrounded Monday by hundreds of enthusiastic Venetian employees at a meet-and-greet, Algieri posed for pictures, signed autographs and said he was ready to "crowd surf."
"I'm very excited," Algieri said. "The team is very positive with all the energy in camp and the positivity we're experiencing from people here in Macau. It seems like it's flowing into my entire camp, and we are performing above and beyond."
Asked how he expects to fare against Pacquiao, Algieri didn't hesitate. "I expect to go out there and control everything," he said. "That includes my opponent. Control, control, control. That's what this sport is all about."
The audacity of that statement is shocking considering the wins Algieri (20-0, eight KOs) scored earlier this year over Emanuel Taylor and Ruslan Provodnikov for the WBO light welterweight title are the only top-quality opponents on his resume. Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38 KOs) is at the opposite end of that spectrum.
Yet when Algieri was asked about shouldering the promotional obligations while Pacquiao has gone quietly about his business, he almost described it as a changing of the guard.
"Manny's done this 1,000 times," Algieri said, excusing his opponent's limited involvement. "He's been this guy. He's earned his right not to be that guy anymore. I'm ready to take the reins."
Pacquiao has let his trainer, Freddie Roach, do most of the talking for their side. A Filipino journalist told Algieri that Roach recently mentioned the challenger was knocked out once during his earlier kickboxing career.
Quoting Roach, the writer said, "Freddie says, 'If a kickboxer can knock him out, imagine a boxer in the category of Manny Pacquiao."
With a smile, Algieri counterpunched, saying: "I got dropped a whole bunch of times in kickboxing. It helped me tremendously in the Provodnikov fight because I had the wherewithal to take a knee in that fight, which helped clear up my eye. But it's funny Freddie would be talking about that because his guy got knocked dead about three fights ago."
That was a reference to the sixth-round KO Juan Manuel Marquez scored against Pacquiao on Dec. 8, 2012. Asked if Roach's barrage of cutting remarks are getting under his skin, Algieri denied it.
"No, no," he said. "I just think it's funny. How are you going to bring that stuff up? It happened when I was , and it happened two years ago to Pacquiao."
The June 24, 2006 bout against Scott Mukkadam wasn't a sanctioned event and did not count against Algieri's undefeated kickboxing record. It was part of Big Knockout Boxing, an MMA-style combat sport with rules designed to encourage knockouts.
"I got hit with a right hand, I got dropped, and the ref stopped it," Algieri said. "I actually was destroying the guy, and I got wild and got cracked. The video is hilarious."
That long-ago incident doesn't reflect the superbly conditioned boxer who will step into the ring against Pacquiao, and Algieri said he expects to see Pacquiao at his best.
"I'm not thinking I've got a shopworn guy, an old guy, a guy who's damaged goods," Algieri said. "I'm thinking, 'I've got Manny Pacquiao.' I've got a champion with a tremendous amount of experience who has been a buzz saw his whole career. That's the guy I have in my mind."
Controlling that Pacquiao would be a difficult task for anyone, but there is a growing feeling in "Camp Positivity" that Algieri might make it look easy. Hard to believe? Yes, but Algieri and his trainers are true believers.