After Manny Pacquiao's one-sided thumping of unbeaten 140-pound titlist Chris Algieri on Saturday to defend his welterweight belt at the Venetian Macao's Cotai Arena in Macau, here are five things we learned:
1. Algieri may have won the promotion, but he badly lost the war
When Algieri was originally announced as Pacquiao's opponent, the reaction from boxing pundits centered around concerns of him being undeserving. With just one major win -- and a debated one at that -- Algieri made the unlikely leap from club fighter to pay-per-view co-headliner in less than one year. But something happened along the way to Macau -- Algieri stole the show. With Pacquiao busy training in Asia, Algieri won the promotion of the fight by soaking up the spotlight with his confidence and flamboyant swagger. If anything, it had a major effect on the odds of the fight, with Pacquiao closing as low as a 6-1 favorite. But the fight was a completely different story and more one-sided than the harshest of critics could have envisioned. (Raise your hand if you remember ever seeing a 120-102 scorecard before.) When Algieri wasn't moving backward, he was getting knocked down -- six times! The jab that dominated much of the prefight headlines was largely nonexistent. With nothing powerful coming back in return to keep Pacquiao honest, Algieri (20-1, 8 KOs) was quickly exposed as too one-dimensional against a complete -- and still very much elite -- version of Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs) one month shy of 36.
2. Algieri's trainer produced one of boxing's most infamous moments of 2014
It's easy to question Algieri's strategy of giving away the early rounds with hopes of hurting and eventually stopping Pacquiao late in the fight. Algieri not only entered the bout with just eight knockouts in 20 pro fights, his attempt at magically rebranding himself as a puncher failed just as miserably when Timothy Bradley Jr. tried the same thing in his April rematch with Pacquiao. In the end, Pacquiao not only proved how wide the gap exists (in both class and experience) between him and Algieri, his speed as a counterpuncher simply overwhelmed Algieri each time he stood still long enough to throw a meaningful shot. But adding insult to injury were the untimely comments made by Algieri co-trainer Tim Lane to HBO's Max Kellerman during Round 9. "[Algieri] is going to put him asleep here in a few minutes. I'm going to let him go one more round. I've got him in the cage right now." Almost immediately after Lane told Kellerman the round (“10 or 11”) that he was going to let Algieri loose, Pacquiao floored him hard with a perfect left cross. It's a dubious moment that will likely live on for years in seven-second videos on social media. And it perfectly illustrated how delusional Algieri's strategy proved to be.
3. No more talking about Mayweather-Pacquiao until it happens
It's a vicious cycle. Five years into the soap opera that is Pacquiao's nonexistent superfight with pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr., it's still the biggest fight the sport can make. And it's still on the tip of everyone's tongue. Sometimes we care about it and sometimes we pretend we don't. Other times we really don't care. But eventually it's rinse and repeat all over again. Deep inside we all want it, we just don't want to talk about it anymore. And given the chance following his domination of Algieri, Pacquiao did very little of it. Sure, when prompted, Pacquiao told Kellerman, "I think I'm ready to fight [Mayweather] next year." But there was no big call out or challenge to close the live broadcast. No trash talking was to be found. And it was somewhat apropos. Top Rank's Bob Arum and Mayweather adviser Al Haymon are either going to sit down in the same room and negotiate who gets what percentage of the purse or they won't. So no more talking about labor pains. We want that baby.
4. Lomachenko is the goods
He dares to be great in often unprecedented ways. Yet despite making his first title defense in just his fourth pro fight, 126-pound titlist Vasyl Lomachenko continued to impress and make strides. The two-time Ukrainian Olympic gold medalist dropped and outlasted Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo in a wide unanimous-decision win. But not only did Lomachenko (3-1, 1 KO), 26, impress with his movement, improving craft and power shots, he was forced to showcase his toughness in an unexpected way. Lomachenko, a southpaw, hurt his left hand after building an early lead and was forced to switch stances and fight off Piriyapinyo (52-2, 33 KOs) with one hand. Despite slowly working his injured left hand back into the mix late in the fight, Lomachenko never gave in to the pain, nor did he buckle mentally under the pressure caused by the sudden turn of events. In just four pro fights, Lomachenko has been forced to showcase his physical talents just as much as his intangibles. He not only has star written all over him, he took a major step forward toward a possible 2015 showdown with fellow featherweight titlist -- and huge puncher -- Nicholas Walters. Bombs away!
5. The Vargas-Jones marriage is a happy one
With future Hall of Fame fighter Roy Jones Jr. making his first appearance as his trainer, secondary junior welterweight titlist Jessie Vargas made a considerable leap in a hard-fought decision win over Antonio DeMarco. Vargas (26-0, 9 KOs) temporarily put to rest some of the negative stereotypes that have followed him with an exciting and gritty effort in his second title defense. Not only did Vargas ultimately outclass the southpaw DeMarco (31-4-1, 23 KOs), a former lightweight titlist, he showed good heart and a strong chin by routinely trading heavy shots at close range. Vargas had developed a reputation as a fighter who routinely received the heavy benefit of the doubt on the scorecards. But he earned everything on Saturday, becoming a dark-horse a candidate to possibly face Pacquiao in 2015. And a lot of that credit has to go to Jones, who also assisted in light heavyweight Jean Pascal’s corner during his impressive January win over Lucian Bute.