With 63 fights in his illustrious career, including 19 for a world title, WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao has a vast store of top-class boxing experience to draw upon when he faces Huntington's Chris Algieri Nov. 22 in Macau, China. The only way Algieri, who is 20-0, can counter that is to show up on fight night as the best-conditioned, best-prepared opponent Pacquiao ever has faced.
That covers a lot of territory, but Algieri, who has two college degrees in health and nutrition, certainly knows his stuff and has a work ethic second to none. He recently concluded a month of intense conditioning workouts on Long Island before moving to Las Vegas, where he just completed the first week of a regimen in which he will spar more than 100 rounds before heading to China on Nov. 13.
Boxing traditionalists might worry about Algieri leaving his fight in the gym, but he told Newsday, "I think my condition is the best in the world, so I'm not concerned about that. I've come into this fight in incredible shape. I like sparring more than anything. I'd rather do more work sparring than running."
Algieri's schedule calls for sparring on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and conditioning sessions on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Lefthanded lightweight Mike Brooks of Oceanside was the first of a group of sparring partners brought in to mimic Pacquiao's southpaw style.
"My coaches tell me they've got a bunch of studs coming, so I'm ready," Algieri said.
He began last week with three sparring sessions lasting six rounds apiece, and plans call for that to increase to eight, then 10, then 12 rounds each over the next three weeks. In the beginning, trainer Tim Lane has Algieri spar four-minute rounds with 45-second rest periods, and that will change to three-minute rounds with 30-second rest periods closer to fight time.
Recalling his preparation before upsetting Ruslan Provodnikov for the WBO light welterweight title in June, Algieri said, "There are times when I'll be going 13 or 14 rounds with two or three different guys. Before the Ruslan fight in my last sparring session in Las Vegas, I had three partners, and we did 14 rounds. I don't take a lot of damage during my sparring sessions, so I'm able to go more rounds."
The 5-10 Algieri has a four-inch height advantage over Pacquiao, which only adds to the effectiveness of his formidable jab, but he's working hard to develop his right hand into a complementary weapon. "I think the jab is the best weapon in the sport," Algieri said. "The reason my left hand is [so effective] is because we made it a point to work on it that much.
"That being said, we made it a point to work on the right hand this time. So don't be surprised if that's a major weapon in the rest of my career. We're definitely adding more [wrinkles] to the arsenal."
Before leaving for Las Vegas, Algieri worked with co-trainer Keith Trimble at Bellmore Kickboxing Academy on a combination that ended with him throwing a right hand over Pacquiao's left and essentially beating him to the punch. That's the combination Juan Manuel Marquez used to score a stunning sixth-round knockout of Pacquiao on Dec. 8, 2012.
"We've been working with the right hand, but we've also been working with the counter-hooks as well," Algieri said. "They're really expanding my offensive arsenal and my countering ability. I have been purposely not trying to focus too much on that particular instance where Pacquiao was knocked cold because I think Tim Bradley made that mistake in his last fight with Pacquiao."
Bradley took Pacquiao's title in a controversial split decision before the Marquez KO, but Pacquiao came back to regain the WBO crown from Bradley by decision on April 12.
"Bradley was really, really focusing on knocking Pacquiao out with that right hand," Algieri said. "I'm not concerned how the win comes as long as we get it."
Winning a decision might be tough in a hostile environment at the Venetian Macau, which is sure to be filled with thousands of fans from Pacquiao's native Philippines.
"I don't anticipate a close fight," Algieri said. "I never do. I prepare for tough fights but not ones that are close. If I do my job and control the space and look to be myself, there should be no doubt when it's time for a decision to be read."
Bold words from Algieri, but that's why he's doing everything in his power to back it up.