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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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Anderson Cruises by Vapid Merhy and Ajagba edges Vianello in Texas

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Jared Anderson returned to the ring tonight on a Top Rank card in Corpus Christi, Texas. Touted as the next big thing in the heavyweight division, Anderson (17-0, 15 KOs) hardly broke a sweat while cruising past Ryad Merhy in a bout with very little action, much to the disgruntlement of the crowd which started booing as early as the second round. The fault was all Merhy as he was reluctant to let his hands go. Somehow, he won a round on the scorecard of judge David Sutherland who likely fell asleep for a round for which he could be forgiven.

Merhy, born in the Ivory Coast but a resident of Brussels, Belgium, was 32-2 (26 KOs) heading in after fighting most of his career as a cruiserweight. He gave up six inches in height to Anderson who was content to peck away when it became obvious to him that little would be coming back his way.

Anderson may face a more daunting adversary on Monday when he has a court date in Romulus, Michigan, to answer charges related to an incident in February where he drove his Dodge Challenger at a high rate speed, baiting the police into a merry chase. (Weirdly, Anderson entered the ring tonight wearing the sort of helmet that one associates with a race car driver.)

Co-Feature

In the co-feature, a battle between six-foot-six former Olympians, Italy’s Guido Vianello started and finished strong, but Efe Ajagba had the best of it in the middle rounds and prevailed on a split decision. Two of the judges favored Ajagba by 96-94 scores with the dissenter favoring the Italian from Rome by the same margin.

Vianello had the best round of the fight. He staggered Ajagba with a combination in round two. At the end of the round, a befuddled Ajagba returned to the wrong corner and it appeared that an upset was brewing. But the Nigerian, who trains in Las Vegas under Kay Koroma, got back into the fight with a more varied offensive attack and better head movement. In winning, he improved his ledger to 20-1 (14). Vianello, who sparred extensively with Daniel Dubois in London in preparation for this fight, declined to 12-2-1 in what was likely his final outing under the Top Rank banner.

Other Bouts of Note

In the opening bout on the main ESPN platform, 35-year-old super featherweight Robson Conceicao, a gold medalist for Brazil in the 2016 Rio Olympics, stepped down in class after fighting Emanuel Navarrete tooth-and-nail to a draw in his previous bout and scored a seventh-round stoppage of Jose Ivan Guardado who was a cooked goose after slumping to the canvas after taking a wicked shot to the liver. Guardado made it to his feet, but the end was imminent and the referee waived it off at the 2:27 mark.

Conceicao improved to 18-1 (9 KOs). It was the U.S. debut for Guardado (15-2-1), a boxer from Ensenada, Mexico who had done most of his fighting up the road in Tijuana.

Ruben Villa, the pride of Salinas, California, improved to 22-1 (7) and moved one step closer to a match with WBC featherweight champion Rey Vargas with a unanimous 10-round decision over Tijuana’s Cristian Cruz (22-7-1). The judges had it 97-93 and 98-92 twice.

Cruz, the son of former IBF world featherweight title-holder Cristobal Cruz, was better than his record. He entered the bout on a 21-1-1 run after losing five of his first seven pro fights.

Cleveland southpaw Abdullah Mason, who turned 20 earlier this month, continued his fast ascent up the lightweight ladder with a fourth-round stoppage of Ronal Ron.

Mason (13-0, 11 KOs) put Ron on the canvas in the opening round with a short left hook. He scored a second knockdown with a shot to the liver. A flurry of punches, a diverse array, forced the stoppage at the 1:02 mark of round four. A 25-year-old SoCal-based Venezuelan, the spunky but out-gunned Ron declined to 14-6.

Charly Suarez, a 35-year-old former Olympian from the Philippines, ranked #5 at junior lightweight by the IBF, advanced to 17-0 (9) with a unanimous 8-round decision over SoCal’s Louie Coria (5-7).

This was a tactical fight. In the final round, Coria, subbing for 19-0 Henry Lebron, caught the Filipino off-balance and knocked him into the ropes which held him up. It was scored a knockdown, but came too little, too late for Coria who lost by scores of 76-75 and 77-74 twice.

Suarez, whose signature win was a 12th-round stoppage of the previously undefeated Aussie Paul Fleming in Sydney, may be headed to a rematch with Robson Conceicao. They fought as amateurs in 2016 in Kazakhstan and Suarez lost a narrow 6-round decision.

Photo credit: Mikey Willams / Top Rank via Getty Images

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Ellie Scotney and Rhiannon Dixon Win World Title Fights in Manchester

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England’s Ellie Scotney started slowly against the long reach of France’s Segolene Lefebvre but used rough tactics and a full-steam ahead approach to unify the super bantamweight division by unanimous decision on Saturday.

“There’s a lot more I didn’t show,” said an excited Scotney (pictured on the left).

IBF titlist Scotney (9-0) added the WBO title by nullifying Lefebvre’s (18-1) reach and dominating the inside with a two-fisted attack in front of an excited crowd in Manchester, England.

For the first two rounds Lefebvre used her long reach and smooth fluid attack to keep Scotney at the end of her punches. Then the fight turned when the British fighter bulled her way inside with body shots and forced the French fighter into the ropes.

Aggressiveness by Scotney turned the fight in her favor. But Lefebvre remained active and countered with overhand rights throughout the match.

Body shots by Scotney continued to pummel the French champion’s abdomen but she remained steadfast in her counter-attacks. Combinations landed for Lefebvre and a counter overhand right scored to keep her in the contest in the fifth round.

Scotney increased the intensity of her attack in the sixth and seventh rounds. In perhaps her best round Scotney was almost perfect in scoring while not getting hit with anything from the French fighter.

Maybe the success of the previous round caused Scotney to pause. It allowed Lefebvre to rally behind some solid shots in a slow round and gave the French fighter an opening. Maybe.

The British fighter opened up more savagely after taking two Lefevbre rights to open the ninth. Scotney attacked with bruising more emphatic blows despite getting hit. Though both fired blows Scotney’s were more powerful.

Both champions opened-up the 10th and final round with punches flying. Once again Scotney’s blows had more power behind them though the French fighter scored too, and though her face looked less bruised than Scotney’s the pure force of Scotney’s attacks was more impressive.

All three judges saw Scotney the winner 97-93, 96-94 and a ridiculous 99-91. The London-based fighter now has the IBF and WBO super bantamweight titles.

Promoter Eddie Hearn said a possible showdown with WBC titlist Erika Cruz looms large possibly in the summer.

“Great performance. Great punch output,” said Hearn of Scotney’s performance.

Dixon Wins WBO Title

British southpaw Rhiannon Dixon (10-0) out-fought Argentina’s Karen Carabajal (22-2) over 10 rounds and won a very competitive unanimous decision to win the vacant WBO lightweight title. It was one of the titles vacated by Katie Taylor who is now the undisputed super lightweight world champion.

An aggressive Dixon dominated the first three rounds including a knockdown in the third round with a perfect left-hand counter that dropped Carabajal. The Argentine got up and rallied in the round.

Carabajal, whose only loss was against Katie Taylor, slowly began figuring out Dixon’s attacks and each round got more competitive. The Argentine fighter used counter rights to find a hole in Dixon’s defense to probably win the round in the sixth.

The final three rounds saw both fighters engage evenly with Carabajal scoring on counters and Dixon attacking the body successfully.

After 10 rounds all three judges saw it in Dixon’s favor 98-91, 97-92, 96-93 who now wields the WBO lightweight world title.

“It’s difficult to find words,” said Dixon after winning the title.

Hometown Fighter Wins

Manchester’s Zelfa Barrett (31-2, 17 KOs) battled back and forth with Jordan Gill (28-3-1, 9 KO-s) and finally ended the super featherweight fight with two knockdowns via lefts to the body in the 10th round of a scheduled 12-round match for a regional title.

The smooth moving Barrett found the busier Gill more complex than expected and for the first nine rounds was fighting a 50/50 fight against the fellow British fighter from the small town of Chatteris north of London.

In the 10th round after multiple shots on the body of Gill, a left hook to the ribs collapsed the Chatteris fighter to the floor. He willed himself up and soon after was floored again but this time by a left to the solar plexus. Again he continued but was belted around until the referee stopped the onslaught by Barrett at 2:44 of the 10th.

“A tough, tough fighter,” said Barrett about Gill. “I had to work hard.”

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O.J. Simpson the Boxer: A Heartwarming Tale for the Whole Family

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O.J. Simpson passed away on Wednesday, April 10, at age 76 in Las Vegas where he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. For millions of Americans, news of his passing unloosed a flood of memories.

The O.J. Simpson double murder trial lasted 37 weeks. CNN and two other fledgling cable networks provided gavel-to-gavel coverage. On Oct. 3, 1995, the day that the jury rendered its verdict, CBS, NBC, ABC, and ESPN suspended regular programming to cover the trial. Worldwide, more than 100 million people were reportedly glued to their TV or radio.

O.J.’s life can be neatly compartmentalized into two halves. The dividing line is June 12, 1994. On that date, Simpson’s estranged wife, the former Nicole Brown, and her friend Ronald Goldman were found stabbed to death in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood at the home that Nicole shared with their two children.

Before then, O.J. was famous. After then, he was infamous.

Simpson first came to the fore on the gridiron. In 1968, his final season at the University of Southern California, he was so dynamic that he won the Heisman Trophy in a landslide, out-distancing Purdue’s Leroy Keyes by 1,750 votes. This was the widest margin to that point between a Heisman winner and runner-up and a milestone that stood for 51 years until surpassed by LSU quarterback Joe Burrows in 2019.

In the NFL, among his many achievements, he became the first and only NFL running back to eclipse 2,000 rushing yards in a 14-game season, a record that will never be broken.

But one can’t appreciate the depth of O.J.s celebrityhood by citing statistics. He transcended his sport like few athletes before or since. Owing in large part to his commercials for the Hertz rental car chain, he became one of America’s most recognizable people.

O.J. Simpson was raised by a single mother in a government housing project in the gritty Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. Unlike many of his boyhood peers, he was never quick to raise his fists. Weirdly, he once said that running away from fights proved useful to him when he took up football. It helped his stamina.

Although he never boxed in real life, O.J. portrayed a boxer in a made-for-TV movie. Titled “Goldie and the Boxer,” it aired on NBC on Sunday, Dec. 29, 1979, two weeks after O.J. played in his last NFL game. Co-produced by Simpson’s own production company, it starred O.J. opposite precocious Melissa Michaelson who played the 10-year-old Goldie.

In promos, the movie was tagged as a heartwarming tale for kids and their parents. Associated Press writer John Egan described it as “a cross between the Shirley Temple classic ‘Little Miss Marker’ and a low-budget ‘Rocky.’”

Here’s a synopsis, compliments of New York Times TV critic John J. O’Connor:

“The year is 1946, and Joe Gallagher is returning to Louisiana as an army veteran. He is quickly ripped off by a succession of thugs and finds himself broke and battered in Pennsylvania where he is befriended by a young Goldie. Her father is a boxer and Joe joins the training camp as a sparring partner. When the father dies, Joe takes his place on the fight circuit and Goldie becomes his manager…”

The consensus of the pundits was that O.J. the actor was very much a work in progress, but that he had great potential. And the movie, despite its hokey plot, attracted so many viewers that NBC wanted to turn it into a series.

O.J. had too much on his plate to commit to doing a regular series. Among other things, he had signed on to become part of NBC’s main stable of reporters at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, a gig that evaporated when the U.S. under President Jimmy Carter joined 64 other nations in boycotting the Games as a protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. However, the movie did spawn a sequel, “Goldie and the Boxer Go To Hollywood,” with Simpson and Michaelson reprising their roles.

I never met O.J. Simpson, but have a vivid memory of finding myself walking behind him into the outdoor boxing arena at Caesars Palace. If memory serves, this was the Hagler-Hearns fight of 1985, in which case the lady on his arm would have been Nicole as they were married earlier that year. She was quite a dish in that tight-fitting pantsuit and I remember thinking to myself, “of all the trophies this dude has won, here is the best trophy of them all.” (Forgive me.)

Simpson had cameo roles in several movies before leaving USC. When he finally turned his back on football, the world was his oyster. O.J., wrote Barry Lorge in the Washington Post, was “bright, affable, charming, articulate and credible, a public relation man’s dream-come true.”

No one would have foreseen the swerve his life would take.

When the jury, after only four hours of deliberation, returned a verdict of “not guilty,” there was cheering in some corners of America. The overwhelming consensus of the white population, however, was that the verdict was an abomination, a gross miscarriage of justice.

We’ll leave it at that.

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