Manny Pacquiao is more apt to speak truth than trash.
So after hearing one more time how smart his college-educated opponent Chris Algieri is, Pacquiao thought it time to communicate his position on the true meaning of education in boxing.
“It’s hard to say he’s a smart guy, because he has to achieve what I’ve achieved,” Pacquiao said. When he has “the eight weight division [world-title belts] I have, that’s the time he can say he’s the smarter guy.”
Pacquiao fights Algieri on Saturday night (U.S. time, HBO pay-per-view) for the WBO welterweight title fight at Cotai Arena.
Algieri (20-0, 8 knockouts) is a confident and eloquent speaker, and his rise in one year from club fighter to 140-pound world champion has been inspiring. But his uphill battle in trying to meet Pacquiao’s talent and accomplishments is why Algieri is an 8-1 underdog.
The disparity was evident Friday, when trainers for both fighters talked with reporters.
Algieri’s trainer Tim Lane, who said his fighter is expected to enter the ring around 158 pounds, drew smirks and rolled eyeballs by predicting his fighter would win by knockout. Algieri weighed in at 143.6, slightly under the 144-pound catchweight limit.
“I truly believe Manny’s going to go to sleep, go back home and retire,” Lane said.
“A stoppage? With the power he has?” asked Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s veteran trainer. “Come on. He can only try to outbox us, and we’re well prepared for that.”
Pacquiao, 35, weighed in at 143.8 pounds.
Roach scolded a questioner for suggesting that Algieri’s split-decision victory in June over Roach-trained slugger Ruslan Provodnikov has additional meaning for the fight Saturday.
“Ruslan’s a heavy puncher, but he’s not Manny Pacquiao. … A much better boxer, much smarter, much more experienced — Manny devastates Ruslan every time they spar,” Roach said. “Don’t compare the two.”
Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38 KOs) hasn’t knocked out an opponent since 2009. He’s had reason not to chase the knockout in his last two unanimous-decision triumphs over Brandon Rios and Timothy Bradley, after doing so and getting knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in December 2012.
But Algieri’s jab-first boxing style lessens the risk of a knockout here, and Pacquiao is thirsting for a powerful showing.
At the end of an unexpected — but extended — workout Friday, Pacquiao showed off his abs to cameramen, raised his arms and shouted, “Victory is mine!”
How confident is he of winning?
“One hundred percent,” Pacquiao said. “I have that fire in my eyes. Not predicting a knockout, but it’s going to be a fight people will enjoy — a fantastic performance.”
Algieri, 30, is aiming for the same, only by a different route.
“I have to fight a perfect fight,” he said. “I’m going to fight when I want to fight. When I’m at my best, I’m dictating how the fight is going.”
The best way for Algieri to do that with a five-inch height advantage is by using the jab.
“That jab is going to be important all night long, and they know it. It’s got to be out there,” Lane said.
Algieri also wants to show the benefit of his master’s degree in clinical nutrition, after complementing his superb fitness with a new-age diet — canned pumpkin and beet juice are part of it — he believes will ensure he can go 12 rounds without fatigue.
Like Roach, Algieri dismisses the meaning of his Provodnikov performance, but for a different reason. Algieri intends to have full use of his right arm in Saturday’s bout, unlike his fight against Provodnikov, when Algieri kept his right “pinned” to his side to protect the swollen/closed eye he suffered while getting floored twice in the first round.
“I want to be as close to a master boxer as possible,” Algieri said. “I’ve been labeled lately as a pure boxer, but I usually throw a lot of punches, body punches. I’m a good inside fighter, and there’s going to be times for that.”
What Algieri discounts, Roach argues, is Pacquiao’s speed and power.
In what will be his 30th fight with Roach in the corner, Pacquiao has shown a talent for cutting off the ring, setting traps and throwing punches from multiple angles.
“You can watch it on film and think you know what’s coming, but when you’re in the ring with that, it’s a much, much different place,” Roach said. “Manny’s bold about where he is now. He needs a big win, he knows that.”