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PREDICTION PAGE: Who Do The Experts Like, Pacquiao or Algieri?

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It’s just about time to see if Chris Algieri can turn a one-off into a trend, can catapult himself to Fighter of the Year honors…or to see if Manny Pacquiao can put into a more nuanced perspective what Algieri did to Ruslan Provodnikov this past June.

Can the Long Islander show the same chin and mettle and superior pugilistic moves he exhibited versus the Russian, and is Pacman (56-5-2) susceptible to that skill set? Or will Manny get the angles on the New Yorker, who has so impressed promoters with his gift for selling his chances and personality, and show himself to be in another league than the 20-0 boxer who not too long ago was seen as an ESPN Friday Night Fights-level performer.

Promoted by Top Rank and Sands China Ltd., in association with MP Promotions, Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing, Banner Promotions and Tecate, the Pacquiao vs. Algieri world welterweight championship event will take place tonight at the Cotai Arena in The Venetian Macao Resort in Macau, China. It will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View beginning at 9:00 p.m. Boxnation coverage in the UK starts at 2:00am.

Now it’s prediction time – I’ve reached out and spoke to various experts and asked them for their take on the outcome. Enjoy, and please add your own, in the TSS forum.

First off, preds from Team TSS.

David A. Avila: Manny Pacquiao by split decision in a close and boring fight. Algieri’s reach will prove a problem, kind of like Vernon Forrest’s reach always proved difficult for Shane Mosley. But Manny’s leg quickness should help him win the fight.

Bernard Fernandez: It is a matter of some debate of just how much Manny Pacquiao has left, in terms of skill or of will. And it probably is true that he has lot some hop off his fastball. Still, you have to figure that 75 to 80 percent of all that Pac-Man once was should be enough to get past a Chris Algieri who beat Ruslan Provodnikov, but took a bit of a beating in doing so. Pacquiao by ninth-round stoppage.

Randy Gordon: Algieri WUD 12; I am as royal as I can be… I must go with my homeboy to win a decision. Pacquiao has lost before. He will lose again. Bring on the rematch clause!

Blake Hochberger: Pacman UD12. I think this is a really tactical fight that sees Algieri’s stock rise in defeat. He’ll win a few rounds convincingly in the middle rounds, but Manny’s pressure/high-volume combination punching will penetrate the American’s stellar defense. You can’t prepare for the unique angles Manny attacks from when he charges in, and Algieri lacks the pure punching power to crack him with counters to stop him from attacking and dictating the pace.

Frank Lotierzo: On paper Pacquiao-Algieri looks like a mismatch. However, I believe Algieri is a little better and tougher than most think. His height, reach and fighting aptitude will keep him around for a while. Manny has gone back as fighter – that’s why Chris was selected as the opponent. Pacquiao wins, and if he’s still anything close to the super-nova he once was, he should stop Algieri.

Aaron Lowinger: Pacquiao UD-12 ; We all know Algieri is a strong tactical fighter in great shape, and we’ve seen him get rocked and stay in, so I don’t think his chin will be much of an issue. Besides, Pacquiao seems to enjoy outboxing guys rather than knocking them out these days anyway. It will be Pacquiao’s speed and power that carry him to a decision win that is scored more narrowly than we’ll expect.

Raymond Markarian: I like Pacquiao to win a decision. Manny looks sharp in camp. He might look for the knockout early but Algieri’s height and jab will prevent that from happening. Oh, and you cannot forget about Algieri’s footwork. Algieri’s movement helped him the most against Provodnikov but he will not tame Manny. I think Manny wins a wide decision and hits Algieri with blistering combos in the midst of an exciting one-sided fight. Pacquiao UD

Kelsey McCarson: Pacquiao TKO 10. There’s nothing in Algieri’s close win over Provodnikov that tells me he can do anything but go rounds (and lose them) against Pacquiao. I’m not even sure he deserved the nod over Provodnikov in the first place. Pacquiao is too fast and too good offensively for the limited Algieri. The HBO and Top Rank hype machine did their job. They’ve convinced the boxing public at-large that the good-natured kid from Huntington, New York has a chance. He doesn’t. After about two rounds, this fight is a one-sided beatdown in Pac-man’s favor.

Robbi Paterson: First of all, I prefer Algieri’s style to Pacquiao’s, even though it’s not proven at elite level over a prolonged period of time. He fights tall behind his jab, which I admire, topped off with excessive lateral movement and he possesses a sharp lead right hand down the pipe. Algieri can’t stand flat footed for too long. He also can’t back away too much either (survival style strategy), as this will invite Pacquiao to come on strong with both hands while closing the distance. He’ll need to find a balance between both, a bit like how Marquez employed himself against Pacquiao. Algeiri must also shoot his punches from underneath as well as over the top – variety is needed. With that said, it’s extremely hard to pick against Pacquiao over the course. He’s got gears Algieri, so far, hasn’t shown in his career. I’ll go with the tried and trusted: Pacquiao via decision.

David Phillips: Pacman, TKO 10. I think Algieri’s cajones will carry him into the later portions of the fight. The biggest issue I see for Algieri is he can’t hurt or out throw Manny. Provodnikov took portions of their fight off and he’s there to be hit. Manny will be busier and his superior footwork will flummox Algieri. Not to mention, Manny can hurt Algieri too. I don’t think Algieri will quit. I suspect we may see a towel in the ring. Let me also add, I’m zero for 2014 on big fights. So there’s that.

Aaron Tallent: Algieri will face Pacquiao in what is only the second 12-round bout of his career. This is not going to be pretty. Pacquiao by KO.

Spring Toledo (author of the book ‘Gods of War): Algieri’s victory over Provodnikov was more of a showcase of the latter’s limitations than the former’s skill and prowess. Algieri is good for boxing; and his superb conditioning and lionheart rightfully earned him the win that earned him a shot at Pacquiao. But that doesn’t mean he can win. This will be a test first of Pacquiao’s legs. If Pacquiao still has them and “it,” he’ll slip the jab, close the distance, and crack him from angles like Matrix. If he wants to, he may knock him out.

Phil Woolever: Pacquiao TKO 9. Leonard – LaLonde 2.

—compiled with Michael Woods

Sean Crose (Boxinginsider.com): I think Algieri may be a bit underrated. Still, Pac-Man comes at you so fast, from so many angles, and so aggressively, that it’s hard for me to see Algieri beating him. Sure, Algieri has a ton of heart and energy, but he was only able to squeak by Provodnikov (if he even did that). Manny’s just on a whole other level. Pacquiao by UD.

Malik Scott (heavyweight contender): I believe Algieri has the skills to pay the bills: a huge heart and great ring generalship. I believe that his style is perfect for Pac-Man to be defeated at this time. Algieri wins a decision in an entertaining fight.

Matt Hamilton (ESNewsreporting.com): Boxing needs a Pacquiao win to sustain a range of lucrative possibilities in 2015. I thus see Algieri as unlikely to be the recipient of any goodwill on the cards. Having said that you have a Pacquiao in decline – at what rate we do not yet know – against a more modest talent historically who is close to or at his absolute peak. For these reasons I’m inclined to view this as a contentious yet convenient Pacquiao win on the cards by majority decision.

Ben Doughty (TipTv.co.uk): A lot of people seem to be tipping the upset in this one and I can appreciate the reasoning behind it. Algieri impressed me vs Provodnikov and clearly knows his way around the ring. He has three and a half inch reach advantage and at 5′ 10″ possesses the movement and skills to cause Pacquiao problems. A points win for Algieri doesn’t seem like an outlandish prediction at this stage but I think that Manny looked relatively fresh in the Bradley rematch earlier this year. As the bigger commercial animal, I think that Pacquaio can do enough to win a decision whether richly deserved or not.

James Smith (InThisCornerTV.com): Interesting fight given where both fighters are at this stage in their lives and careers and given the stylistic matchup. Manny should win no doubt, but Chris with his length and jab, yes especially that jab can present problems for the Pac-Man. Manny has always had an issue with the jab. The reason for that, well that is for my show. My pick would be Manny by decision.

Rudy Hernandez (Los Angeles based trainer): Algieri will try and out box Pacquiao but he’s never been in the ring anyone like Pacquiao, who’s style is not common and not as easy as it looks. Pacquiao will try and knock him out but I think Algieri survives after getting knocked down once or twice. Pacquiao by decision.

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Erickson Lubin Wins, But Misplaced His Hammer

David A. Avila

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Erickson Lubin misplaced the hammer but found a way to victory over Terrell Gausha by unanimous decision in a slow-developing WBC super welterweight eliminator on Saturday.

Lubin (23-1, 16 KOs), a southpaw slugger, was unable to lower the boom on Gausha (21-2-1, 10 KOs) at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. But he did enough in a tactical battle that only activated into a real fight in the later rounds.

Back and forth the two super welterweights mostly feinted and fired blows at each other’s guard. Few managed to pierce for scoring blows and those that landed were mostly to the body.

“It was a chess match. I respected what he had, he was trying to counter what I had. My trainer was telling me to be cautious and not get hit with anything stupid,” said Lubin, whose trainer is the respected Kevin Cunningham.

Gausha, 33, was the more accurate puncher but fired less than Lubin. Though he seemingly scored more often with counter rights, the scarcity of his blows allowed Lubin to control the pace of the fight.

It wasn’t until the mid-rounds that Gausha stepped into a slightly quicker pace. In the 10th, a short right connected and wobbled Lubin who covered up.

“I knew I had hurt him, but he was able to recover,” said Gausha, 24, who tried to finish off the hurt fighter but was unable to land another scoring blow.

“I’m in shape and I was able to recuperate,” Lubin revealed.

It was still unclear who was winning the fight. In the 12th and final round Lubin stepped up the pace and connected with a crisp right hook that clearly snapped the head of Gausha. But he fought his way out of the dangerous corner.

After 12 rounds all three judges scored it for Lubin 115-113, 116-112, 118-110.

“Gausha is a tough competitor, he’s at the top for a reason,” said Lubin. “I feel I beat one of the top 154s and I’m going to keep doing that.”

Gausha was classy in defeat.

“I take my hat off to Erickson Lubin. He was the better man tonight,” said Gausha.

Lubin now awaits the winner between Jermell Charlo and Jeison Rosario who fight each other next week for the WBC, WBA and IBF super welterweight titles. Showtime will provide the title match on pay-per-view.

Featherweights

Former IBO featherweight titlist Tug Nyambayar (12-1, 9 KOs) floored Cobia Breedy (15-1) twice in the first two rounds but struggled the rest of the way to win by split decision. One judge scored it 115-113 for Breedy and two others for Mongolia’s Nyambayar 114-112 and 114-113.

Nyambayar knocked down Breedy with a counter right cross in the first round and then floored him with four rights and a left hook in the second. After that, Breedy was the busier fighter and no one was able to take control.

“Boxing is boxing. It was a tough fight,” said Nyambayar.

Welterweights

In a solid match Philadelphia’s Jaron Ennis (26-0, 24 KOs) was able to find out exactly where he stands against real competition and stopped the unstoppable Juan Carlos Abreu (23-6-1, 21 KOs) in the sixth round by technical knockout in their welterweight showdown.

More than just a knockout win, Ennis discovered that he can indeed take a punch from an elite level puncher.

Nobody questioned whether Ennis had boxing skills or athleticism and power, but nobody knew if he could take a punch. They discovered it as Abreu was able to connect in the fourth and fifth rounds. The Dominican fighter pulled out his tricks and connected several times with sneaky rights and lefts. Ennis remained standing.

Abreu was looking to trade bombs with Ennis in the fifth and sixth round and paid the price in getting delivered to the canvas with a pretty right counter uppercut. He survived. But in the sixth a slew of punches along the ropes sent him down again. He beat the count again but during a fierce exchange he was floored a final time at 1:06 of the sixth round. It was the first time Abreu had ever been stopped.

“I feel I put on a wonderful show and got the knockout,” said Ennis. “I feel I showed the division I am here.”

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Fast Results from the MGM Bubble: Pedraza Outclasses Molina Plus Undercard

Arne K. Lang

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The featured bout on tonight’s card at the MGM Bubble was a match between 2008 Olympians. It was a competitive match on paper, but Jose Pedraza turned in one of the better performances of his career while turning away Javier Molina who just wasn’t in Pedraza’s league tonight. The fight went the full 10 with the judges voting for the Boricua by scores of 99-91 and 98-92 twice. A former two-division belt-holder who looked very comfortable in his second start at 140, Pedraza boosted his record to 28-3. Molina, who had won five straight coming in, falls to 22-3.

Pedraza was manhandled by Gervonta Davis in 2017, outclassed by Vasyl Lomachenko in 2018, and upset by Jose Zepeda last year, but showed tonight that he still has plenty of mileage left on his odometer. Josh Taylor and Jose Carlos Ramirez each own two pieces of the 140-pound title, but Pedraza seems to have found a new gear at age 31 and is nipping at their heels. However, Pedraza also hankers to renew acquaintances with Zepeda and that will likely come first.

In the 10-round heavyweight co-feature, Efe Ajagba’s higher workrate carried him to a 10-round unanimous decision over Jonathan Rice. The scores were 98-92 and 99-91 twice.

Ajagba, the Houston-based Nigerian making his first start under the Top Rank banner, advanced his record to 14-0 (11) but was underwhelming. Rice, the terror of Tijuana taxi drivers, fell to 13-6-1 and solidified his reputation as a useful gatekeeper.

Robeisy Ramirez, a two-time Olympic gold medalist for Cuba who now resides in the Miami area, improved to 5-1 with a unanimous 8-round decision over Puerto Rico’s Felix Caraballo (13-3-2). Both appeared on the inaugural MGM Bubble card with Caraballo, fighting for the first time in the U.S., suffering a sixth-round stoppage at the hands of Shakur Stevenson. Tonight’s uneventful fight saw Ramirez on cruise control as he won by scores of 79-73 and 80-72 twice.

San Bernardino junior middleweight Leo Ruiz improved to 8-0 with a 6-round unanimous decision over Cancun’s Rodrigo Solis (4-5-1). Both fighters had a point deducted in round five; Ruiz, 21, for low blows and Solis for spitting out his mouthpiece. The scores were 58-54 and 59-53 twice.

In a fight that wasn’t on the original schedule, Houston super middleweight Christian Montano improved to 10-0 (7) with a 6-round unanimous decision over St. Louis’ Ryan Adams (7-4-1). A three-time national amateur champion, Montano, who is of Columbian descent, had knocked out seven of his previous opponents in the opening round. He looked poorly conditioned tonight but yet won every round on two of the scorecards.

Lightweight Bryan Lua, who hails from the town of Madera in central California’s agricultural belt, returned to the ring after a 27-month absence and scored a one-punch knockout over Chile’s Luis Norambuena. A left hook did the damage, bringing the bout to a sudden conclusion at the 2:27 mark of round two. Lua, (6-0, 3 KOs) won two of three over Ryan Garcia as an amateur. It was a quick turnaround for Norambuena (4-7-1) who lost a 4-round decision in this ring last week.

The first two bouts on the card showcased the newest members of Top Rank’s “Kiddie Corps.” Kasir Goldston and Jahi Tucker, 17-year-old welterweights, launched their pro careers on a winning note.

Goldston, a southpaw from Albany, NY, opened the show with a 4-round unanimous decision over Wisconsin’s Isaiah Varnell (3-3). The scores were 40-36 and 39-37 twice.

Tucker, who trains in the same Long Island town that spawned Buddy McGirt, put away Alabama’s Deandre Anderson (1-2) in the opening round. Anderson came out winging, but the precocious Tucker picked him apart. Referee Robert Hoyle stepped in and stopping the mismatch at the 2:56 mark. As an amateur, Tucker was ranked #1 at 138 pounds while still a sophomore in high school.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams for Top Rank

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 105: Angry Welterweights and More

David A. Avila

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Those welterweights don’t play.

One welterweight just got out of jail and wants to take out his angry frustrations in the boxing ring.

“One of us is getting knocked out. If it gets to where I’m behind on points, I’m just going to come forward and try to take him out, even if I end up getting knocked out,” said Juan Carlos Abreu. ““If he stands and fights, it’s better for me. That’s what I want.”

Standing in front of Abreu (23-5-1) will be one of the top welterweights in America, Philadelphia’s Jaron Ennis (25-0, 23 KOs). This is could be Ennis’ first true test against an experienced foe on Saturday Sept. 19, at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. Showtime will televise the Premier Boxing Champions card.

Ennis, 23, has been breezing easily since first jumping in the prize ring in April 2016. So far, the competition has been unable to cope with the athleticism he possesses. Will Abreu be the first to pose a problem?

“Whatever he brings, we are going to be ready. I’m going to go out there, do my thing, be smart, have my fun, and get that stoppage at the end of the night,” said Ennis, whose last opponent Bakhtiyar Eyubov was eliminated in four rounds in January. “You can’t just go in there and go for the knockout. That’s how you get tired and lose your cool or even get hit with punches that you shouldn’t be getting hit with.”

Abreu hopes he loses his cool.

“If he stands and fights, it’s better for me. That’s what I want. I really want one of us to get knocked out,” says Abreu of the Dominican Republic who was purportedly jailed for street fighting.

This welterweight matchup is the precursor to the WBC super welterweight eliminator between Terrell Gausha (21-1-1, 10 KOs) and Erickson Lubin (22-1, 16 KOs).

Gausha and Lubin both have lost once in their pro careers and need a win to get another crack at a world title.

Gausha lost a decision to Erislandy Lara three years ago. Lubin was stopped in one round by Jermell Charlo three years ago. Both realize the nature of the beast.

“I think Gausha has some problems with southpaws, but I’m not focused on that. I’m focused on my game plan and coming out victorious Saturday night,” said Lubin, 24, a southpaw called “the Hammer” for a reason.

Gausha is originally from Cleveland, Ohio but trains in Southern California and has fought four elite southpaws in his career. He believes one more is not a problem.

“This will be my fourth southpaw in a row. So, I’m more comfortable and familiar this time around,” said Gausha, 33, a former US Olympian who trains with Manny Robles Jr. “The guys before me, they all fought each other. Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran. They all fought each other. To be the best, you have to beat the best. And you can see that the fights I take, even after a long layoff, they are tough fights.”

Top Rank

Also, on Saturday Sept. 19, heavyweights and super lightweights lead a Top Rank card featuring some interesting bouts that will be shown on ESPN+.

Newly acquired Efe Ajagba (13-0,11 KOs) meets Jonnie Rice (13-5-1) in a 10-round heavyweight clash. It’s Nigeria’s Ajagba’s second fight this year. Though still a little raw he shows immense potential and great natural strength.

Rice fights out of Bones Adams’ Gym in Las Vegas and has some power. He built up his record on heavyweights in Tijuana boxing rings but has some pop. He’s a sizeable heavyweight and good measuring stick for Ajagba.

The main event is a doozy.

Puerto Rico’s Jose “The Sniper” Pedraza (27-3, 13 KOs) meets Southern California’s Javier Molina (22-2, 9 KOs) in a 10-round super lightweight bout at the MGM Grand Bubble in Las Vegas.

This should be good.

Pedraza, 31, is a former WBO lightweight world titlist who lost in his first defense to Vasyl Lomachenko. Nothing bad about that. He defeated Mexico’s Raymundo Beltran for the belt and has shown a penchant for showing up big when you least expect it.

Molina, 30, is a 2008 US Olympian and a member of the fighting Molina family. His brother Oscar was a member of Mexico’s 2012 Olympic team. His other brother Carlos fought for the world title against Amir Khan. Though Javier Molina has never shown great power, he can truly fight.  His last win came against Amir Imam this past February.

Pending Lightweight Clash

Speaking of the lightweight division, is anyone else as excited as me about the looming showdown between the remarkable Vasyl Lomachenko and impressive Teofimo Lopez coming in less than a month?

Lomachenko, 32, the Ukrainian stylist known as “Hi Tech,” has that incredible footwork and ability to control distance. He’s a master of frustrating opponents and imposing his style of darting in and out of danger. But as good as he is, he can’t sell tickets. Only hardcore fans appreciate his peerless boxing skills.

Lopez, 23, hails from Brooklyn and has that ex-factor you can’t teach. He’s pizzazz and panache with a punch. That combination of flair and power excites fans and seemingly makes him a natural gate attraction. But in spite of his electric abilities, he’s facing a master boxer. Is he ready?

Top Rank is known for having a team of matchmakers headed by boxing wizard Bruce Trampler. It makes me wonder why they are pitting these two against each other?

The probable answer: neither sells out an arena alone. May the best man win.

A friend of mine from East L.A., who formerly boxed and comes from a boxing family, shared his knowledge and opinion on the matchup. He has an interesting take.

“His footwork is incredible,” said George Rodriguez about Lomachenko. “Don’t get me wrong, Teofimo is an incredible talent, but Lomachenko has that footwork.”

Any way you look at it, the winner of this clash clearly bumps up his own image.

Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) versus Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) at the MGM Grand Bubble in Las Vegas on October 17. Mark down that date. It will be televised on ESPN.

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