Manny Pacquiao vs Chris Algieri: The fight Juan Manuel Marquez should have preventedWritten by Leroy Cleveland
And yes, Pacquiao vs Algieri will be broadcast on HBO Pay-Per-View.
The outcry over this match-up has reached epic levels and many, if not most, in the boxing world have not only pledged they have no intention to order the fight or watch it, some seem genuinely disinterested.
Algieri, a jr welterweight even some die-hards were not familiar with until this summer, burst on to the fight scene in June when he scored an upset, arguably controversial twelve round split decision victory over the heavily favored Ruslan Provodnikov in Brooklyn to claim the latter's WBO jr welterweight strap.
Algieri is a fine fighter who certainly deserves credit for defeating Provodnikov. Moreover, he may very well be a fighter to watch - But from a marketing and promotions perspective, he lacks the resume and public fanfare required to produce even satisfactory interest in a superfight with Manny Pacquiao on the biggest stage in boxing.
So who was left for Manny to fight?
Given Floyd Mayweather had already agreed to rematch Marcos Maidana and the popular Provodnikov, of course, lost to Algieri, Manny didn't have many options due to network and political constraints.
Manny Pacquiao fights on HBO due to his affiliation with Top Rank while Danny Garcia, former stablemate Amir Khan, the explosive Keith Thurman and hard-hitting Lucas Matthysse are all, for the time being, Showtime fighters due to promotion-related business obligations to their manager Al Haymon. Although there's a hint things may be changing, it's too early to match fighters of rival networks and promotional entities without a) enormous public demand or b) a lot of red tape.
And while Bernard Hopkins, whose previous two bouts have been broadcast on Showtime, is fighting Sergey Kovalev on HBO but the former is not managed by Al Haymon.
So who else was left for Pacquiao?
Argentine Luis Carlos Abregu (36-1, 29 KO) is an excellent fighter and one of the most avoided in boxing but, like Algieri, is a relative unknown to the masses. Moreover, unlike Algieri, he has yet to beat a big name.
Manny's fought Tim Bradley twice, clearly winning both bouts in the eyes of most. He soundly defeated durable, fan-friendly Brandon Rios, and the unbeaten Kell Brook had already signed to face Shawn Porter. Moreover, Pacquiao's already defeated Miguel Cotto who has moved up two divisions since their 2009 encounter and is trained by Pacquiao mentor Freddie Roach. Pacquiao vs Cotto 2 was never in play for a myriad of reasons.
But there was one fighter, a boxing legend, who was available and not obstructed by network obligations and promotional politics. Had this boxer, also a top 10 pound-for-pound fighter today, agreed to face Manny, the bout would have likely generated more money and fanfare than any other match-up in the welterweight and jr welterweight divisions, sans Mayweather vs Pacquiao of course.
Yes, red hot Juan Manuel Marquez, who looked sensational in defeating Mike Alvarado last spring, should have prevented Pacquiao vs Algieri.
In fact, Pacquiao vs Marquez 5 should be taking place November 22 as both fighters were in need of a big name opponent. Heck, Marquez still doesn't know who he'll fight later this year, if he decides to return to the ring at all.
But ever since Juan Manuel Marquez, seemingly on the verge of defeat, heroically knocked out Manny in December 2012, he's stood firm in insisting there will never be another Pacquiao vs Marquez bout.
"[The win over Pacquiao] is and always will be an unforgettable moment for me, for the fans," Marquez chimed last December.
"That is precisely why I think there is no point in a fifth fight although the promoters are pushing [for it]."
From a financial standpoint, Pacquiao is JMM's most lucrative option. Moreover, he insists he so dearly wants to win a world title as a welterweight and Pacquiao owns the WBO version of that belt.
"I want that fifth championship, and if that does not exist for me then I'm closer to retirement," Marquez stated in January 2014.
"I have to see the possibilities and if the opportunity opens - why not go get it. There is the International Boxing Federation (IBF), World Boxing Association (WBA), and the World Boxing Council (WBC)," said Marquez.
So why is JMM, the WBO's mandatory challenger for PacMan, so reluctant to face Manny again in what would clearly be the highest-grossing and, perhaps, most significant fight of his career?
November 2014... The timing for Pacquiao vs Marquez 5 could not have been better. Pacquiao vs Algieri should have been Marquez's fight.
Two paths of two legends who were fierce rivals converged at a point in their respective careers where they clearly needed each other ... And one, apparently, didn't answer the call.