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Algieri: Homegrown, no Longer Unknown

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By Jason Gonzalez at ringside


Brooklyn---In consecutive weeks, the “Big Apple” played host to the “Sweet Science.” But instead of presenting the fistic fury from the home of the New York Rangers, Madison Square Garden, Saturday’s action brought us south of the East River to the Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets, on Atlantic Avenue.
 
It’s remarkable how history has a way of repeating itself. The 30-year-old junior welterweight Chris Algieri of Huntington, Long Island found himself in a similar situation as his paisano, Paulie Malignaggi did eight years ago. For quite some time, Algieri, now 20-0, (8) had been fighting in relative obscurity. Once a fixture on the Long Island fight scene, Algieri auditioned for his first title shot against presumed killer and 2013’s “Fight of the Year” (shared with Tim Bradley, voted as such by the members of the Boxing Writers Association of America) participant Ruslan Provodnikov.

In 2006, the once-unknown Malignaggi, then 25 years-of-age, challenged Miguel Cotto for the WBO junior welterweight championship at the “Mecca of Boxing.” Coincidentally, this was the same strap Algieri was attempting to snatch from Provodnikov, in which the latter won by defeating Mike Alvarado back in October of last year.
 
In what was almost an identical scenario, Malignaggi put forth a valiant effort against Cotto. Malignaggi looked great but in defeat. Malignaggi was on the losing end of a unanimous decision, ultimately falling short in his first attempt at a world title. Obviously, this is the one major incidence Algieri didn’t want to rehash. He wanted to write his own storybook ending.
 
Grammy Award-winning emcee and hip-hop great Eminem is quoted in his Academy Award-winning song “Lose Yourself,” “Do not miss your chance to blow; this opportunity comes once in a lifetime.” That said, failure wasn’t an option.
 
Algieri survived two knockdowns in the first round and fought through a hematoma that left his right eye swollen shut en route to being crowned champion. It isn’t just trees that grow in Brooklyn. Stars are born there too. Fight fans now know Algieri.
 
Algieri upended Provodnikov, pulling off boxing’s biggest upset thus far in the 2014 calendar. Algieri outboxed Provodnikov to earn a split decision in front of 6,218 screaming fans, mostly of whom were rooting for Algieri, making Provodnikov’s reign as champion short-lived.
 
The scorecards read 114-112 twice for Algieri while the third favored Provodnikov by a wide margin of 117-109. Considering that two judges scored the bout eight rounds to four for Algieri and the other scored it nine rounds to three for Provodnikov, the discrepancy is disparaging. Needless to say, the decision wasn’t without controversy.
 
Provodnikov opened the fight by flooring Algieri with a left hook to the head in the first round. Soon after, Algieri would go down again a second time, succumbing to Provodnikov’s relentless aggression.
To Algieri’s credit, he remained true to his Latin roots (Algieri is half-Argentine) by staying tranquilo (Spanish for “cool and collected”), slowly working his way back into the fight by peppering Provodnikov with an excellent jab. Provodnikov was a sitting duck for the jab, simply because he lacked head movement and failed to cut the ring off effectively.
 
“It was a great fight. The secret to winning the bout was being able to get out of the first round,” said Algieri, who sported a grin at ringside. “He hit me with a pretty good shot. I took a knee the second time because my lip was numb and I wanted to clear my head and see how my eye was. It wasn’t anything he hit me with.”
 
Provodnikov now 23-3 (16), is by far the biggest name on Algieri’s résumé. However, Algieri exposed Provodnikov’s deficiencies for most of the night, leaving some of the members of the media saying, “I thought Provodnikov was better.”
 
Algieri’s eye began to take a turn for the worse in the middle rounds. Provodnikov kept throwing left hooks, attacking the optics and forcing the swelling to increase in hope that either the commission or Algieri’s corner would stop the fight. There were intervals in the contest that suggested the bout was headed in that direction.
 
But despite having the deck stacked against him, Algieri never folded. He dug deep and continued to press forward. Algieri was by far the busier fighter, throwing nearly 1,000 punches.
 
“I could see pretty well up until the eighth round,” said Algieri regarding the eye injury, “but by the time we hit the 12th round, I was blind in the eye. I was, however, able to anticipate his left hook throughout most of the fight. I was able to figure out his rhythm.”
 
Algieri lacked the punching prowess to hurt Provodnikov, such as previous Provodnikov counterparts Bradley and Mike Alvarado. However, unlike them, Algieri remained true to himself. Algieri boxed as opposed to engaging in a shootout with the heavy-handed Russian.
 
“I congratulate Chris Algieri,” said a humbled Provodnikov through a translator. “That is all I have to say about that.”
Bob Arum of Top Rank Promotions stated that if Algieri were to defeat Provodnikov, he would let him fight Manny Pacquiao next. Let’s see if Arum keeps his promise and grants the post-collegiate graduate his wish. Common sense says Provodnikov will exercise the rematch clause in the contract but the next go-round will more than likely be hosted at a neutral site.
 
Hall of Fame trainer and Provodnikov’s chief second Freddie Roach hinted to the notion during the post-fight press conference. It was just one week ago when Roach navigated the Miguel Cotto ship to victory over Sergio Martinez for the World Middleweight Championship. The highs and the lows. What a difference seven days make.
 
“It happens,” said Roach. “That’s what competition is about. You have to expect things like this to happen when you compete. You win some; you lose some. It’s not the first time nor will it be the last.” With Algieri losing three points as a result of the two knockdowns, the question remains if whether or not Algieri did enough to win at least eight of the remaining 11 rounds. There was major division in press row. Some writers said yes while others said no. Algieri’s face sang a different tune.
 
In the co-feature bout of the evening, undefeated WBO junior middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade successfully defended his strap via a one-sided, seventh round TKO over mandatory challenger Brian Rose.
 
Andrade looked impressive in the process, making sure his name is mentioned with the big dogs of the division, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Erislandy Lara and, of course, Floyd Mayweather Jr.
 
“I’m the best in the world,” Andrade said, now 21-0 (14). “I was taking my time and my power was affecting [Rose]. I took round five off to see the openings; the sixth round, I picked it up and the seventh round, he had to go.”
 
Andrade dropped Rose in the first and third rounds. The 26-year-old southpaw from Providence, Rhode Island administered a thorough “butt-whipping” through and through. The beatdown prompted referee Michael Griffin to call a halt to the bout at the 1:19 mark of the seventh round.
 
Andrade opened the contest by jumping out of the gate quickly, swarming the native of Blackpool, England and tagging him with right jabs and straight lefts. This strategy paid off because Andrade put Rose on the seat of his pants soon after.
 
In the third stanza, Andrade dropped Rose again, the result of a counter right hook over the top to the head. It became target practice for Andrade as the fight progressed.
 
“I earned my right to be here but he was better than I thought he would be,” said Rose, now 25-2-1 (7). “[Andrade] may be one of the best out there in the game. I just couldn’t keep up with him and I couldn’t keep him off of me.”
 
Rose would leave the Barclays with a souvenir in the form of a gash on the bridge of his nose. The forced rupture leaked blood the same way a faulty faucet leaks water.
 
“If you don’t believe in me, don’t bet against me,” boasted Andrade. “You will lose your money but if you do believe in me, by all means, bet on me. I’ll get you paid.”
 
Light heavyweight Seanie Monaghan, of Long Beach, Long Island, handed Elvir Muriqi his second loss in a row while losing a lot of blood in the process.
 
Monaghan, now 22-0 (14), pounded out a 10-round unanimous decision by scores of 99-90 (twice) and 98-91. Although the scorecards may fail to reflect the “elbow grease” Monaghan put into the fight, his victory over Muriqi resembled a lumberjack chopping down a big tree, a nonstop effort that required a lot of patience.
 
Monaghan pounded away at Muriqi’s head and body. The hard work paid dividends when Monaghan scored a knockdown in the fourth round. But as the old adage goes, no good deed goes unpunished. Monaghan sustained two grotesque cuts over both eyes. Fortunately for him, the open wounds were at the side of each eye and from ringside, it did not appear that the blood was impeding Monaghan’s vision.
Back-to-back visits to the “L” column for Muriqi drop him to 40-7 (24). Monaghan has been a staple on the local New York fight scene, making a name fighting C-class opposition. The time has come for him to step it up a notch. He appears to have talent but we will never know if Monaghan doesn’t tap into it.
 
Russian junior welterweight Fedor Papazov improved to 15-1 (10) after making quick work of Miguel Angel Mendoza. A Papazov right hand in the third stanza spelled the end for Mendoza. To the Mendoza’s credit, he beat the count but rose on spaghetti legs, not to mention sustaining a busted nose.
 
With Mendoza’s corner fearing for the worst, they gracefully bowed out, throwing in the towel. The time of the stoppage came at the 36-second mark of the frame. The loss drops Mendoza’s ledger to 21-4-2 (21).
 
Brooklyn featherweight Heather Hardy caught a lucky break against Jackie Trivilino. Hardy won her bout via a seventh round technical decision after sustaining a gruesome laceration in the second round from an accidental headbutt.
 
Hardy, now 10-0 (2), had a lot of difficulty countering Trivilino’s aggression. As the fight progressed, Hardy’s cut worsened. Referee Peter Santiago called a halt to the contest at the end of the seventh. According to the rules of the New York State Athletic Commission, if a fight is stopped due to an accidental headbutt, you then go to the scorecards. One read 67-66 in favor of Trivilino, who dropped to 9-8-3 (1). However, this score was superseded by the other two cards, reading 68-65 and 67-66 for Hardy.
 
In what resembled a drunken toughman contest, middleweight Chris Galeano, of the “Boogie Down” Bronx earned the nod over the soon-to-be journeyman Malik Johnson via four-round unanimous decision.
 
The judges’ scorecards read 40-36 and 39-37 (twice) in favor of Galeano. With the victory, Galeano improved to 4-0. Although Jackson, now 0-3-3, gave a good showing of himself nonetheless, he was throwing haymakers but was never able to get anything going offensively. A fly on the wall would say this particular fight was way more competitive than it should have been.
 
Junior middleweight Simeon Hardy kept his undefeated record intact with an easy second round stoppage of Malcolm Terry in the opening bout of the evening. Hardy, 13-0 (10), dropped Terry twice. Unfortunately for Terry, the second time would be his last. He fell flat on his face at the 1:02 mark of the second frame. With the loss, Terry dropped to 6-3 (6).
 
Jason Gonzalez can be reached at jg51593n@pace.edu. You can also visit him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Jason.Gonzalez39 and follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JayGon15.
 
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