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Pacquiao back in China against unbeaten Algieri

Published:Thursday | November 20, 2014 | 12:00 AM
WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao (left) and WBO junior welterweight champion Chris Algieri pose during a news conference in Macau, China. The boxers are scheduled to meet in a title fight on November 23. - AP

MACAU, China (AP):

Manny Pacquiao didn't need the huge bouquet of flowers he was holding to feel welcome in this gambling enclave, where he will be fighting at an odd hour Sunday against an opponent who has to already feel as though he won boxing's biggest lottery.

Pacquiao got them anyway Tuesday night at his official grand entrance in the lobby of the massive Venetian hotel-casino. He smiled and posed with them because there's a fight with Chris Algieri to sell, something Pacquiao seems to be taking more seriously as his career begins heading into the later rounds.

There are also new rumblings along the Floyd Mayweather Jr front, but more on that later. For now, Pacquiao seems re-energised as he plots what he hopes will be a spectacular performance that might stop talk about his declining knockout power - he hasn't had a stoppage in five years now - and entice Mayweather to finally enter the ring with him sometime next year in what would surely be boxing's richest fight ever.

"I'm not predicting a knockout, but I'm looking for a good fight and looking to prove I can still fight," Pacquiao said. "I'm willing to fight anybody. I'm not ducking anyone."

BEHIND-THE-SCENES TALKS

That includes Mayweather, of course, and promoter Bob Arum said there have been some preliminary behind-the-scenes talks to make the long-awaited fight finally happen. Whether it actually takes place, though, depends largely on Mayweather, who only recently has given indications he may be more agreeable to make the fight than he has in the past.

Arum could be using the possibility of a Mayweather fight to try to spark interest in Pacquiao's second bout in China, which will take place on Sunday so it can be sold on pay-per-view in the United States. A Pacquiao-Mayweather fight has been the talk of boxing for five years now, and nothing has come of it, mainly because Mayweather wants to control his own destiny and wants nothing to do with Arum, his former promoter.

"Let's finish this fight first," the Filipino congressman said. "My job is to fight. I'm not picking opponents. Whoever wants to fight me, we will fight."

In Algieri, Pacquiao has an opponent who seems to have everything but a big punch. Algieri is a promoter's dream, a college graduate with a master's in clinical nutrition who wants to be a doctor. Algieri still lives in his parents' basement on Long Island, but talks confidently about not only beating Pacquiao but making himself into a big name.

Arum said he believes Algieri's story will help sell the fight, unlike Pacquiao's first fight in Macau last November against Brandon Rios that did well at the box office but was not a pay-per-view smash.

"This time we're selling Algieri instead of trying to sell the fight as being from China," Arum said. "So far, it seems to be working."