The trend in Manny Pacquiao’s recent fights consists of rematches or opponents moving up in weight class.
Seven months after his loss-avenging performance against Timothy Bradley, Pacquiao lured a junior-welterweight titleholder into the welterweight division for his next ring date.
Pacquiao will face Chris Algieri on Saturday night in Macau, China. The Philippines native and eight-division world champion will headline his 16th pay-per-view telecast against Algieri.
“I am still hungry, and I am doing what I did before,” said Pacquiao, considered among the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighters for the past eight years.
Pacquiao, 36, overcame the lowest point in his career two years ago, when he lost consecutive fights against Bradley and four-time rival-Juan Manuel Marquez. Before his rematch victory over Bradley, Pacquiao won a lopsided decision against junior-welterweight Brandon Rios in November 2013.
After Pacquiao settled matters with Bradley, expectations were that he would pursue a fifth-fight against Marquez.
Instead, Pacquiao (58-5-2, 38 KOs) opted for Algieri, the New York native who made a noticeable career impact following his title-winning performance against punching menace Ruslan Provodnikov in June. Algieri (20-0, 8 KOs) recovered from two early fight knockdowns and outboxed Provodnikov for a split-decision victory.
“Ruslan is a big puncher but he just got caught up looking for that one-punch knockout and I think that was the downfall in that fight for us,” said Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach, who also worked Provodnikov’s corner in his bout against Algieri.
“I think Manny is a much more experience fighter and a much more technical fighter, throws a lot more combinations and is a lot faster. He’s not as big as big as a one-punch knockout artist but Manny can hurt you when he wants to.”
Although Algieri has agreed to move up a division to face Pacquiao, Saturday’s bout will be fought at a catch-weight of 144 pounds.
“We are not taking him lightly for this fight, and we are training hard for this fight because of what he proved in the Ruslan fight,” Pacquiao said. “Chris Algieri is a very dangerous fighter, and we are taking nothing for granted.”
A win over the heavily favored Pacquiao could provide Algieri a breakthrough into the pay-per-view landscape. Algieri, 30, is a promoter’s and TV network’s dream, seemingly delivered from central casting. In addition to his spotless record and world title, Algieri has a bachelor’s degree from Stony Brook University and is considering medical school as a future educational option.
▪ Miami resident Yuriorkis Gamboa made a successful ring return with a sixth-round technical knockout victory over Joel Montes De Oca late Saturday in Cancun, Mexico.
Gamboa (24-1, 17 KOs) floored Montes De Oca in the fifth and sent him to the canvas again in the sixth with a left to the head. Although a dazed Montes De Oca (18-4) reached his feet before the 10-count, referee Florentino Lopez stopped the bout at 1:13 of the round.
For Gamboa, the bout was his first since suffering his first professional loss — a ninth-round TKO setback against Terrence Crawford in June.
▪ Part-time Hollywood resident Wladimir Klitschko retained his four sanctioning body heavyweight titles with a fifth-round knockout win over Kubrat Pulev in Germany. Klitschko (63-3, 53 KOs) has now made 17 successful defenses since beginning his second stint as heavyweight champion in 2006.
Saturday (9 p.m., pay-per-view): Manny Pacquiao vs. Chris Algieri, 12, for Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight title.