MACAU - Until he was in the ring with a legend the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Chris Algieri had no way of truly understanding the level of experience and skill an eight-division world champion would bring to the table. He learned a painful lesson over the course of six knockdowns while losing a lopsided unanimous decision Sunday afternoon in Macau.
The bravado that traveled halfway around the world with Algieri (20-1, 8 KOs) from Greenlawn was replaced by sobering reality against WBO welterweight champion Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs), but Algieri could take heart from the fact that he went the distance even if he didn't come close to fighting his fight.
"That's the intangible," Algieri said of the experience gap. "The experience is something you can't measure. What I realize is that his style is so much his own and so rehearsed and so experienced. He is Manny Pacquiao."
The Algieri who displayed a strong jab and outpunched fearsome slugger Ruslan Provodnikov in June to win the WBO light welterweight title, which was stripped from him for fighting Pacquiao before a mandatory defense, was replaced by a different Algieri who spent much of the fight in retreat rather than planting his feet to deliver the sharp jab that has been his trademark.
"Yeah, he's so good at doing the things he does that he made it difficult to get any momentum going," Algieri said. "At times, I was able to make him miss. I know he was getting frustrated, but I could never really get more than a single or a couple shots together. I landed some great shots, counters, but I couldn't put them together. He's a very, very savvy veteran."
In the space of nine months Algieri went from fighting at Huntington's Paramount Theater to the biggest stage in boxing, but he said, 'I don't think I was taken aback by the moment."
Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach, who was in Provodnikov's corner when Algieri scored his upset win in June, disagreed.
"He was in over his head more than I thought," Roach said. "After 30 seconds, you could see he didn't look right in there. He was just a little bit scared. I told him, when people get in the ring with Pacquiao, it's different than Ruslan because of the speed factor.
"He was a little embarrassed tonight, but he got up six times and he showed heart. I wish the best for him."
Pacquiao, too, expressed his admiration for the way Algieri battled to the end, extending his knockout drought to nine fights over five years.
"Our focus was to try to finish the fight early, but Algieri is a very tough opponent," Pacquiao said. "In his last fight with Ruslan Provodnikov, we saw his toughness and the same tonight. I did my best. I dumped him down six times, and still, he was fighting."
Algieri said two of the knockdowns should have been ruled slips. That certainly was in the case on the first one in the second round. In the sixth, he went down twice from a left hook and then a right.
It appeared Pacquiao might get his KO when he banged Algieri's chin in the ninth with a perfect left hook that put him on his back. Algieri got up but went down again from another flurry. The final knockdown was from a left in the 10th round.
"He dropped me hard with the left hook in the ninth round," Algieri said. "That was the one that was a real knockdown. I felt like I was getting steam in that round. It just put me deeper in a hole at that point. It was a tough hole to get out of."
Now, Algieri plans a rest after a busy year while promoter Joe DeGuardia decides whether to file a grievance with the WBO to keep the 140-pound title. Roach said Provodnikov has a rematch clause.
"We'll huddle up and figure out the best way," DeGuardia said. "We have to look for the best fight to get him established back."
After the first loss of his career, Algieri was deflated, but he vowed to return better for having fought the great Pacquiao.
"It's a learning experience," Algieri said. "It's not going to shake my confidence in my ability. I'm just very disappointed with the way the fight went."