(Reuters) - American challenger Chris Algieri represents a younger, hungrier generation of boxers hoping to take down Manny Pacquiao but the world champion’s coach Freddie Roach is confident the Filipino has both the speed and skills to retain his WBO title.
Algieri earned his shot at Pacquiao, a winner of world titles in eight different divisions, by climbing off the canvas twice to earn a split decision victory over Russian Ruslan Provodnikov in June, a win that improved his record to 20-0.
Roach recognized the hard-hitting New Yorker’s toughness but said Pacquiao had the tools to defend his welterweight crown in Macau on Nov. 22.
“He’s a tough kid and he’s strong,” Roach told The Philippine Star. “He doesn’t have the speed and the skills Manny has. But he has the power.”
Pacquiao’s (56-5-2) storied 20-year professional career is littered with wins over some of boxing’s biggest names, including Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley and Oscar De La Hoya.
He suffered successive defeats in 2012 but has got back on track with two impressive wins over Brandon Rios and Timothy Bradley.
A win over Algieri could bring the long-awaited super fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr one step closer.
“A lot of the guys we fought in the past are retired now,” Roach said. “We’re fighting the new generation. Rios was the first step. And then Bradley. These guys are younger and hungrier.”
Pacquiao has not scored a knockout since stopping Miguel Cotto in Nov. 2009, and was himself knocked out by Marquez in 2012 in his first outing after losing to Bradley the same year.
While some have questioned how much gas the 35-year-old has left after 63 professional fights, Pacquiao will be a strong favorite to beat the 30-year-old American at The Venetian Macao in two weeks’ time.
Reporting by Peter Rutherford in Seoul; Editing by Greg Stutchbury