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Weekend Roundup: Pacquiao batters Algieri, Bellew-Cleverly disappoints, Vargas shines

Manny Pacquiao dropped Chris Algieri six times en route to a dominant win, while Tony Bellew and Nathan Cleverly stunk out the joint in Liverpool.

Chris Hyde/Getty Images

There was plenty to talk about from this past weekend's action, so let's get right into it. We'll start with the fighter of the week, a really famous guy!

Fighter of the Week: Manny Pacquiao

It'd be easy to say Lomachenko (more on him in a moment), but I've got to go with Pacquiao, who dropped Chris Algieri six times en route to a win even more dominant than expected. Two of the knockdowns were legitimately caused by wetness in Pacquiao's corner, but "six" sounds so impressive that it's fun to just ignore referee Genaro Rodriguez's continued incompetence and go with the official number.

Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KO) looked to stop Algieri (20-1, 8 KO) in this one, and I thought on two separate occasions he was going to. But credit to Algieri, he proved again that he's tough and knows how to survive. Chris Algieri is a good fighter. But good doesn't beat truly great without a lot of luck involved, and Manny is still a great fighter.

TV Fight of the Week: Jessie Vargas UD-12 Antonio DeMarco

In his first fight under new trainer Roy Jones Jr, Jessie Vargas showed a new aggression and some real heart, as he fought a hell of a fight with the game and hard-hitting Antonio DeMarco. Though I scored this one 10-2 for Vargas and the official cards were all 8-4 for the still-unbeaten junior welterweight, this was competitive and a lot of fun to watch, sticking out as the easy fight of the night on the Pacquiao-Algieri show.

Vargas (26-0, 9 KO) overcame cuts and a busted nose, plus the always relentless DeMarco (31-4-1, 23 KO), whose aggression and power were there at 140 pounds against a legitimate opponent. Both of these guys came out looking better, I thought. DeMarco may only be a fringe contender at 140, but that's a lot better than being an also-ran, and a guy who fights like he does can be a problem on any given night for any given opponent. And this was, in my view, the best and most fan friendly Vargas performance to date.

Bomb of the Week: Tony Bellew SD-12 Nathan Cleverly

For a grudge match with personal rivalry and dislike, this sure was a dud. Actually, it was a dud however you look at it, but considering their first fight in 2011 was pretty damn good, and the fact that they legitimately do not like each other, expectations were fairly high for Cleverly-Bellew II, and they were both just awful.

Neither Cleverly nor Bellew could land with any accuracy whatsoever, and Cleverly fought without any confidence in his ability to take punches or trade. Is that residual doubt left over from what Sergey Kovalev did to him? Is it just an indicator that maybe he's not terribly comfortable as a cruiserweight? Was he just not that well prepared?

Whatever it was, Cleverly was atrocious in this fight, and for all his aggression, Bellew wasn't a whole lot better. Even with Cleverly pinned on the ropes for the last quarter or so of the fight, Bellew couldn't land effectively. It was a poor showing for both guys, but Bellew is now in the hunt for a world title shot. Given his aggression and general lack of fear for mixing it up, he's certainly going to have better fights in him.

Prospect of the Week: Vasyl Lomachenko

It's weird to call Lomachenko a prospect, but his win this weekend over Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo was just his fourth pro fight. Sure, he holds the WBO featherweight title, but lots of guys hold world titles. Lomachenko, though, is the real deal. Watching him ply his trade is mesmerizing. Chonlatarn was without question overmatched from a skill standpoint, but the way that Lomachenko essentially toyed with a veteran of over 50 pro fights (many of them nonsense, but still) was extremely impressive. His footwork is incredible, his combination punching is beautiful, and now all we have to worry about is chronic hand injury. That's how we do it in 2014, we take one likely minor injury from one fight and go, "Hope his hands don't turn into glass like Paulie Malignaggi!"

Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down

Thumbs up! to Callum Smith (15-0, 11 KO), who was very impressive in going the distance against Nikola Sjekloca for a one-sided and solid win in Liverpool. The 24-year-old "Mundo" Smith looks like he's going to be the best of a big fighting family, and it's probably for the best that he wasn't able to simply run over Sjekloca. We often call tough fights where someone bites down and escapes with a win a "learning experience," but this was, too, even if Smith was mostly dominant.

Thumbs down! to Zou Shiming (6-0, 1 KO), who won again. After impressing early with speed and timing, and a little bit of power coming from both, Zou settled into his familiar pattern. I don't like watching him fight, and it's not like how I don't like watching Andre Ward or Guillermo Rigondeaux fight most of the time.

Thumbs up! to Roy Jones Jr for a terrific job with Jessie Vargas, and then taking over as expert analyst for the rest of the HBO pay-per-view broadcast. Roy's dream of training, fighting, and commentating on the same card is going to happen sooner than later, and hell, why not? Sounds fun.

Thumbs down! to referee Howard John Foster, who stepped in way too soon and awarded James DeGale a third round stoppage win over Marco Antonio Periban in Liverpool. DeGale was fighting very well and looked like he was headed for a good win anyway, but Foster -- the same guy who stopped the first Froch-Groves fight too soon -- was too quick on the trigger, not giving Periban a chance. Foster seemed to have his mind made up as Periban was going down.

Weekly POWER 25!

  1. Floyd Mayweather (1): Remains the pound-for-pound king.
  2. Sergey Kovalev (2): As impressive as Pacquiao was, I'm sticking to my guns. I think Kovalev is truly this good.
  3. Manny Pacquiao (3): Is MANNY BACK!!! or is it still IS MANNY GOOD STILL!?!?!?
  4. Roman Gonzalez (4): Scored another win on Saturday in Japan, smashing tough Rocky Fuentes to retain his WBC flyweight title.
  5. Carl Froch (5): DeGale says he's a coward, but I don't see it. That's a good fight, and one that should happen. DeGale has earned a shot, and he could be trouble for Froch.
  6. Timothy Bradley (6): Returns December 13 against Diego Chaves.
  7. Juan Manuel Marquez (7): The most interesting opponent for Pacquiao outside of Mayweather. Still. Again.
  8. Guillermo Rigondeaux (8): He might be no Lomachenko, but he's proven a lot more.
  9. Wladimir Klitschko (9): Bryant Jennings up next? And is Klitschko coming back to America?
  10. Gennady Golovkin (10): Martin Murray looms in February for everyone's favorite polite knockout artist.
  11. Juan Francisco Estrada (11): Gonzalez-Estrada is one of the best fights on paper in all of boxing, if it can be made.
  12. Danny Garcia (12): Nothing on the table right now, as he waits to see what shakes out.
  13. Takashi Uchiyama (13): Fought last New Year's Eve. Will fight this coming New Year's Eve. Nothing in between.
  14. Terence Crawford (14): Has a tough assignment with Ray Beltran, who is bigger and physically stronger than Yuriorkis Gamboa.
  15. Adonis Stevenson (15): Has a fairly routine assignment with Dmitry Sukhotsky on December 19.
  16. Mikey Garcia (16): Will be officially inactive on January 26, 2015.
  17. Bernard Hopkins (17): Talk of a catchweight fight with Golovkin is intriguing. Don't count "The Alien" out, either.
  18. Shinsuke Yamanaka (18): Current top bantamweight in the sport.
  19. Omar Narvaez (19): Faces junior flyweight phenom Naoya Inoue on December 31 in Japan.
  20. Nicholas Walters (20): "Axe Man's" next fight will be highly anticipated, unless it's a crappy matchup. Then we'll forget what he did to Donaire and complain.
  21. Canelo Alvarez (21): Most likely facing Cotto next as he takes on another big name for a lot of money.
  22. Kell Brook (22): Tentatively set to return in March.
  23. Naoya Inoue (23): A fantastic young fighter, and showing real stones by taking the risk against the tricky veteran Narvaez, two weight classes up.
  24. Carl Frampton (24): Nothing press rival Scott Quigg showed on Saturday made it look less like Frampton has lapped him.
  25. Miguel Cotto (25): Maybe just vacate that middleweight belt and let middleweights fight for it. (But why do that when Canelo fight at 155 pounds can be a middleweight title fight?) Touche.

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