Pacquiao vs Algieri undercard sizzles

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Tonight, Saturday, November 22, from the Cotai Arena Venetian Macao, eight division world champion Manny Pacquiao will make his highly anticipated return to the ring and defend his WBO Welterweight title against the current WBO Junior Welterweight champ Chris Algieri.

(Image courtesy of HBO)

Although fight fans are most excited about Pacquiao vs Algieri, the main event of the evening, boxing die-hards will be entertained with the three preliminary bouts featured on the HBO PPV undercard from Macao, China.

(-225) Jessie Vargas (25-0, 9 KOs) vs. (+190) Antonio DeMarco (31-2-1, 23 KOs) - for the WBA Junior Welterweight “Regular” Championship

In what is expected to be the most competitive match-up Pacqquiao vs Algieri undercard, the Vegas based title holder will defend his coveted distinction against the hard punching, former WBC Lightweight Champion, Antonio DeMarco. Several factors make this enticing bout the potential sleeper fight of the evening.

Not only is this championship fight a classic pairing which pits the boxer versus the puncher, but the head trainers in both respective corners genuinely adds some intrigue to the event.

Jessie Vargas’ chief second will be none other than future Hall of Fame fighter Roy Jones Jr., while Antonio DeMarco will be accompanied by five time trainer of the year, Mr. Freddie Roach. While the two knowledgeable boxing coaches can’t compete for their respective disciples, both Vargas and DeMarco are two of the more underrated fighters in the stacked Junior Welterweight division.

Although the reigning title holder has been widely criticized for his lack of power in the ring, the addition of controversial conditioning coach and nutritionist Angel “Memo” Heredia Hernandez could make a big difference against an opponent who customarily has many holes in his defense. With Vargas’ athleticism, speed, and reflexes, expect the WBA title holder to touch up the Mexican native early and often in this scheduled twelve round contest.

But fans would be wise not to sleep on Antonio DeMarco. The former 135 pound titlist is the same fighter who dramatically captured the Lightweight title in 2011 by coming from behind and stopping incumbent champion and former pound for pound fighter Jorge Linares in the eleventh round of their brutal and dramatic, modern day classic after trailing on all three judges’ scorecards.

This championship bout truly has the makings of another barnburner, which should set the table for the remaining three bouts on the Pacquiao vs Algieri HBO PPV event.

This undercard match-up receives a rating of 4 out 5 stars - ****

(-2275) Vasyl Lomachenko (2-1, 1 KO) vs. (+1215) Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (52-1, 33 KOs) - for the WBO Featherweight Championship

If fight fans find themselves looking at the records with the corresponding odds, wondering whether or not this is a typing error, don’t worry…the information is accurate.

The two-time Gold Medal winning Olympian captured the WBO Featherweight title by defeating formerly unbeaten, elite level talent Gary Russell Jr. in only his third professional bout on June 21 of this year. If you’ve never seen the gifted marksman compete in the ring before tonight, buckle-up…you’re in for a genuine pugilistic treat.

The Ukrainian born ring surgeon possesses an elite level skill set with possibly the best footwork in the entire sport. The intelligent 26 year old prizefighter resembles an artistic figure skater in the center of the ring, who truly exudes the beauty and splendor of “the sweet science”.

His opponent from Thailand, although grossly overmatched, is a mentally and physically durable fighter who always comes to the ring in peak condition, which should give the elite level technician some entertaining and competitive rounds in the first half of the contest. But as the scheduled twelve round fight ages, boxing fans should begin to see a clear separation of talent that should result in a mid to late round stoppage.

Expect to see a breathtaking performance from one of boxing’s best, which consequently should set up a highly anticipated unification bout with current WBA 126 pound champion Nicholas Walters in 2015.

Because of the talent level and what’s ultimately at stake for Vasyl Lomachenko, this title defense creates a lot of curiosity and intrigue for every die-hard fight fan.

This undercard match-up receives a rating of 3 out 5 stars - ***

(-2500) Zou Shiming (5-0, 1 KO) vs. (+1000) Kwanpichit OnesongchaiGym (27-0-2, 12 KOs) - Scheduled 12 round, Flyweight special attraction

This is another case where the A-side attraction has a deep, impressive amateur pedigree, while his opponent is still learning on the job.

The two-time Gold Medal Olympian from Zunyi, China, represents Bob Arum’s latest effort in establishing the sport of boxing within the untapped Chinese market. With about 1.4 billion inhabitants, the ambitious Top Rank CEO expects over 300 million viewers on Sunday morning in China alone.

Although Shiming is still adapting to a more pro-friendly style, the 33 year old prizefighter seems to be drastically improving with each outing under the tutelage of Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach.

And despite competing in the traditionally non-lucrative weight division of 112 pounds, Zou Shiming is already a superstar in his native country…which is why he’s being featured in the co-main event of the evening.

Shiming will indeed be facing a very durable opponent in OnesongchaiGym, but the Chinese celebrity will enjoy the “home court” advantage in this contest. And though he may never be the global superstar that Arum is hoping for, Shiming remains a very entertaining fighter to watch. The former Olympian likes to let his hands go with regularity and doesn’t mind standing in the pocket and trading with his opponent.

So even though this isn’t exactly what most die-hard fight fans have come to expect in a typical PPV co-main event, the action should be plentiful and consistent throughout the scheduled twelve round contest.

This undercard match-up receives a rating of 2 out 5 stars - **

Although the moans and criticisms will be rampant throughout the often cynical, die-hard boxing community, all three preliminary bouts could prove to be a lot more entertaining than expected if fight fans remember to view tonight’s action with an open mind as well as an open pocket book.

Manny Pacquiao and Chris Algieri are slated to get it on in the main event at the Cotai Arena Venetian Macao on Saturday night, November 22. Pacquiao vs Algieri will be broadcast by HBO PPV with a start time of 9PM ET/6PM PT, and a price tag of $60 in SD and $70 in HD.


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