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Algieri Gets His Shot

(Chris Algieri)
(Chris Algieri)

By Allan Scotto


Back in 2007, a group of friends and I headed over to Lindenhurst High School on Long Island to watch a Golden Gloves competition it was hosting. As often happens at boxing cards, I began to have a conversation with the young man sitting next to me, who, it turned out, was an undefeated kickboxing champion.
 
That young man was Chris Algieri.
 
As we spoke, Chris explained to me that he was retiring from kickboxing so he could become a professional boxer. I explained to him who I was and asked him to contact me when he was going pro so I could follow his career on MaxBoxing.com.

About a year later, I got an email from Algieri telling me his first fight was scheduled for April 3rd, 2008 against a young man named Ken Dunham. Algieri won by technical knockout in the third round and he’s been winning ever since.
 
Chris is now 19-0 with eight knockouts and has fought his way to a showdown with current WBO light welterweight champion Ruslan Provodnikov, 23-2 (16).
 
Provodnikov is a brawler who likes to get on the inside and come at you with wide looping shots. He is very tough as anyone who saw his fight with Tim Bradley can attest. Provodnikov lost the fight by a razor-close unanimous decision but had solidified his standing with fight fans.
 
It was an all-out war and a definite candidate for “Fight of the Year.”
 
In his very next fight, Ruslan stopped Mike Alvarado to capture the WBO light welterweight title. On June 14th, Chris Algieri will try to take that crown from Provodnikov.
 
If you look at the photos from their recent press conference, you can clearly see Algieri is a much bigger man. When asked about that, Algieri made it very clear that he plans to exploit that advantage.
 
“There is an obvious height and reach advantage, which I plan on capitalizing on.”
 
Most people feel that for Algieri to win, he has to stay on the outside and use his tremendous boxing skills to keep Ruslan off balance and on the outside. When asked if he agreed with that thinking, Algieri explained, “I adapt my style to my opponent and I generally don’t know exactly how I will fight someone until fight night. I don’t watch tape because you can’t gauge a man’s rhythm based on a video. Some fights like the [Jose] Peralta [Alejo] fight [in February of last year], I am very busy and throw a lot of punches. Other fights, like the Emmanuel Taylor fight, I fight at a measured pace and pick my punches more efficiently. In either case, I will be in great condition and ready for anything.”
 
Algieri is very much like Bernard Hopkins when it comes to staying in shape. He is never not in shape. He doesn’t gain weight between bouts and is very strict about what he puts into his body.
 
A big reason for this is because Chris has a master’s degree in clinical nutrition and is also a certified sports nutritionist, so he knows what he’s doing when it comes to staying strong and in shape. In fact, when Algieri retires from the ring, he plans on continuing his education and becoming a doctor.
 
Because he is always in such good condition, he has shown tremendous stamina in the ring and there are times when his punch output is astounding. Whether this will be the case in his fight with Provodnikov remains to be seen.
 
When asked what his game plan is to beat Provodnikov, Algieri responded, “I am going to do what I always do, use my skills, athleticism and boxing I.Q. to control the fight. Ruslan is a great champion and a powerful fighter as well as being super durable and aggressive. It will be a fast-paced and exciting fight for sure.”
 
One thing is for certain, Provodnikov will pressure Algieri the entire night. To win, he’ll need to slow Algieri down. Ruslan is a big puncher with a 64% knockout record, so the last thing Algieri wants is to go toe-to-toe with Provodnikov.
 
So in the final analysis, this one shapes up to be the classic match-up between the boxer and the brawler and on June 14th, we’ll all know if the young man I met all those years ago walks out of the Barclays Center a champion.
 
Allan Scotto can be reached at boxingriter@aol.com.
 
 
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