Back in November 2014, Chris Algieri suffered through a nightmare of an evening against Manny Pacquiao, getting dropped six times in an ugly 12-round loss. Next month, rising star Errol Spence Jr. will be looking to deliver a similar beatdown to Algieri.
Errol Spence Jr. (19-0, 16 KOs) definitely possesses the ability to “pull a Pacquiao”: The 26-year-old southpaw, who is considered by many to be the eventual heir apparent to retired 147-pound champion Floyd Mayweather Jr., brings a six-fight knockout streak into his April 16 clash against Chris Algieri (21-2, 8 KOs) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York (NBC, 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT).
“I’m not going to try too hard for the stoppage, but I’m definitely looking for a dominant performance,” says Spence, who has recorded five knockdowns in his last three contests. “If I get him hurt, then I’ll go for it.
“[Regardless], I’ll do what I do, which is catch him with shots, hit him with counters and break down the body. I want to give him a Manny Pacquiao-like beating.”
While facing Spence doesn’t figure to be a picnic for Algieri, the former 140-pound titleholder can enter the ring with confidence, having bounced back like a champ since the Pacquiao embarrassment, which was contested at 144 pounds.
First, Algieri lost a tough unanimous decision to Amir Khan in May in a fight that appeared much closer than the judges’ scorecards suggested. Then in December, he scored an eighth-round knockdown of Erick Bone en route to winning a unanimous decision.
Algieri’s fight against Khan was both his first bout at 147 and his first under the direction of trainer John David Jackson. And Khan himself acknowledged how much of an impact Jackson had on Algieri’s game in the post-fight news conference.
“This is the best I’ve seen Algieri,” said Khan, displaying a cut over his left eye and bruises beneath it as evidence of the power in Algieri’s right hand. “It would have been a different story if he’d fought Pacquiao like he fought me. He'd have beaten Pacquiao. Trust me.”
“The Pacquiao fight wasn’t me. I said from the beginning I wanted that fight at 147, but they wouldn’t do it,” Algieri said shortly after losing to Khan. “Tonight, I thought I landed the cleaner, harder shots. I felt like I buzzed [Khan] throughout the fight.”
One person who came away impressed with Algieri’s last two performances is Derrick James, who serves as Spence’s cornerman.
“I’ve watched the Khan fight and the Bone fight, but I haven’t watched the Pacquiao fight because Algieri’s a better fighter now with a different trainer,” James says. “Algieri’s a smarter fighter now that he’s with John David Jackson, and I like his toughness.
“This is the type of fighter who will bring out the best in Errol Spence. He’s super, super tough, and we have to break this guy.”
Spence is very much aware of his opponent’s toughness, and realizes this will likely be his stiffest test since turning pro in 2012. Given that Algieri has never been stopped in 23 professional fights, Spence understands it won’t be easy to extend his KO streak against the former world champ. But that doesn’t mean the talented Texan won’t try.
“Pacquiao didn’t stop him, Amir Khan didn’t stop him and Ruslan Provodnikov didn’t stop him,” says Spence, the latter a reference to Algieri’s upset, title-claiming victory over Provodnikov in June 2014. “If the knockout presents itself, I’m going to take it. Otherwise, I’ll make it a one-sided fight.”
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