This past weekend’s Top Rank card headlined the champion Manny Pacquiao vs “The Fighting Collegiate” Chris Algieri and the co-main event Zhou Shiming vs. the sturdy journeyman Thai Onesongchaigym. On the surface Top Rank was selling the story about the People’s champ and Cinderella Man, and Macau’s champion Shiming attempting to prove his mettle in the competitive Flyweight class.
However, we really know this is the HBO Freddie Roach show, with the episode of the night being “Bad Intentions”. Freddie was on a battle path training his stable for this November 23 fight date, both his fighters showed up mad and in charge, imposing their will and disrespect from the first bell.
Zhou was landing impressively crisp combinations on his Pacquiao-doppelgänger opponent until getting lazy in the later rounds due to knowing how far he was ahead due to knockdowns and Onesongchaigym’s fouls. But through round 4, 12 minutes of impressive output, high-pressure tempo, and frightening motivation, Shiming simply outclassed his opponent with laser guided grenades towards Onesongchaigym’s head and torso. Shiming’s focus was impressive but his lack of experience (and heavy contributions of Onesongchaigym’s frustrated low blows and head butts) couldn’t seal the deal and the fight ended up going 12 rounds with a UD for Shiming. Here, Coach Roach’s song was “I want you to knock him out” but Zhou couldn’t deliver.
Surprisingly, I have a similar report on Pacquiao’s performance against College Boy Chris, although to Coach, he was doing the right thing every second. The first four rounds were beautiful to watch as Pacquiao’s unreal footwork befuddled Chris into focusing on staying away from the ropes instead of throwing punches, and combined with Return of the Feint (one of my favorite jams of Pacquiao’s) Manny had Algieri shook already, a sign for Pacman to lick his chops in the tease of a flinching prey. Algieri had precisely two impressive rounds while Manny seemed to take a break, and could’ve served Mayweather of a visual proof, but in the end seemed to cave to Manny’s will, as if he just couldn’t look him in his eyes to say “yes, I’m still in this fight to win.” Manny was showing more intelligence and to me was actually showing handedness, seemingly now favoring a more conventional southpaw stance and looking to counter after a beautiful setup of cutting off the ring and feints. It was really a delight to watch and feel Manny could do this for several more fights in his already great legacy.
In the end, to me this was a demonstration of Freddie’s classic style that’s of the same old-school brain as Cus D’Amato who knows “Boxing is entertainment, so to be successful a fighter must not only win but he must win in an exciting manner. He must throw punches with bad intentions.” Both Freddie’s horses, the new buck with potential, and the hero still showing no fear, know this and with all the talk of boxing being dead the matchups were quite good despite so many fans calling it a mismatch with 20/20 hindsight. With Freddie still grinding at his fighters just as hard as Cus guilted his fighters into training, especially his young bucks, it makes it just look easy under the bright lights. That’s why Algieri and Onesongchaigym should actually get all the props to taking it to the champions for all 48 minutes, getting up after each knockdown. Their conditioning was unreal, and what makes modern boxing arguably harder because young “stepping stones/journeymen/cannon fodder” are all going for the gold harder than ever before, day in day out in the gym. I hope both fighters, especially Chris Algieri to continue with proud #championlifestyle. Just get rid of your corner man…
An amazing time for boxing fans. Kanpai Boxing!!