Boxing Breakdown: Pacquiao Headlines Championship Card in China

On November 22, Manny Pacquiao will defend his WBO welterweight title in Macau, China, against Chris Algieri. Pacquiao has won his last two fights and is 56-5-2 all time. Algieri is five years younger than Pacquiao and unbeaten at 20-0. The main event headlines a card that also includes Vasyl Lomachenko facing Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, Zou Shiming battling Kwanpichit Onesongchaigym, and Jessie Vargas meeting Antonio DeMarco.

In his most recent fight, Pacquiao beat Timothy Bradley in a unanimous decision to earn the WBO title in April. Prior to that, he earned a unanimous decision win over Brandon Rios in Macau almost exactly a year ago. The win over Rios snapped a two fight losing streak, which included a split decision loss to Bradley in June 2012, and a knockout loss at the hands of his rival, Juan Manuel Marquez, in December 2012 (Pacquiao’s only losses since 2005). Of his 56 career wins, 38 have come by KO. The now 35-year-old won his first career title in 1997 at the tender age of 18.

Pacquiao’s opponent, Chris Algieri, was the WBO light welterweight champ. He won the title in a split decision over Ruslan Provodnikov in June. He never actually lost his title in the ring; instead, the WBO controversially stripped Algieri of the belt when he decided to move up in weight class to face Pacquiao. Before taking the light welterweight title, Algieri earned a unanimous decision over Emmanuel Taylor in February. Algieri has just eight wins by knockout and all of his fights so far have taken place in his native New York. Algieri is not only an accomplished boxer, he also has a degree in pre-medical healthcare sciences from Stony Brook University and earned his master’s in clinical nutrition from New York Institute of Technology. Pacquiao comes is as the heavy favorites, sitting at -900 in the moneyline while Algieri is +600. Algieri may have a fine future as a boxer, or doctor, but he has never faced anyone remotely as good as Pacquiao. Though Pacquiao’s best days are likely behind him, he should still cruise to victory over the studious Algieri.

Vasyl Lomachenko is a decorated amateur fighter who just recently turned pro. The Ukrainian won a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing as a featherweight, and added gold as a lightweight at the London games in 2012. As an amateur, his career record was 396-1, but he is just 2-1 as a pro. The 26-year-old won a majority decision against Gary Russell, Jr. in June to earn the WBO Featherweight title. His opponent, the 29-year-old Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, is 52-1 in his career. But the Thai national has faced little in the way of quality opposition. He was outclassed by an aging Chris John in 2012. Lomachenko should not have a problem earning a win.

In the flyweight division, Zou Shiming is facing Kwanpichit Onesongchaigym, and the victor will get a shot at champion Juan Francisco Estrada. Shiming is 5-0 and coming off a unanimous decision victory over Luis de la Rosa in which he won the vacant WBO International flyweight title. He earned a gold medal for China in each of the last two Olympics, but this fight will mark his first 12 round match. Onesongchaigym, who is known better as “Kwanpichit 13 Rien Express”, is 27-0-2 career. His last five wins are against competitors with combined records of 26-16. It’s a hard fight to handicap; but Shiming is being marketed by Bob Arum as a potential star and will have the crowd behind him, so we give him the edge, particularly if it goes to the judges.

Jessie Vargas is defending his unbeaten record and WBA light welterweight title. He’s 25-0 with nine straight wins via decision, including a win over Anton Novikov in August. Antonio DeMarco is the former WBC lightweight champ. He is 31-3-1 lifetime with three straight wins after a November 2011 loss to Adrien Broner. In his most recent fight, DeMarco beat Lanardo Tyner in August. DeMarco is a game competitor, but Vargas is younger and faster and should get the victory.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/roger_alcantara/ [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped from its original.)