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Algieri: Not Your Average New Yorker

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By Jason Gonzalez


In the most recent episode of the hit series “Power”, actor Omari Hardwick, who plays the lead character of James “Ghost” St. Patrick, said, “That’s how things happen; your whole life can change in one breath.”
 
Well, it was exactly two weeks ago when Chris Algieri’s life changed forever. The 30-year-old native of Huntington, Long Island acquired the WBO junior welterweight championship after scoring 2014’s colossal upset. Although it required Algieri to do a lot more than just inhaling oxygen and exhaling CO2, his effort, skillset, and courage proved to suffice en route to procuring a split decision conquest over Ruslan Provodnikov at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
 
“The victory has sunk in; however, I still feel the same,” said a modest Algieri while munching on a broccoli and spinach-filled omelet at the Celebrity Diner in Syosset, Long Island. “One thing that has changed is how people are treating me. Everyone is speaking to me and treating me differently. Even Joe [DeGuardia of Star Boxing] talks to me differently now. Just the other day, I was at the dentist for a routine cleaning and the receptionist went nuts when she saw me. That wasn’t the first time she saw me. She’s never done that before.”

Sometimes fame can come at a very hefty price. And early on, it appeared Algieri would be in permanent debt. Algieri, a post collegian graduate with a second degree black belt in Chinese Kenpo Karate, looked every bit of the five-to-one underdog the bookmakers listed on fight night. Algieri, now 20-0, (8), tasted the canvas twice while suffering ocular trauma to his right eye before the first round even ended. With an uphill battle to climb, as the fight progressed, Algieri’s right optic looked as if a baseball was implanted in his orbital socket.
 
“The eye is fine now,” said Algieri. “I was at the eye doctor recently and he said my recovery period is right on target. As you can see, there is still some superficial bruising on and around the eye but that’s normal. My vision is fine; however, people get scared or become concerned when they see the redness on the eye due to the busted capillaries. But all is well; no need to worry. Although I have been placed on medical suspension, I have begun light workouts at the gym, plus I am swimming too.”
 
The physical anguish combined with the “W” caused Algieri’s gigantic triumph to become a trending topic of sorts. Two of the judges sitting ringside scored the fight in favor of Algieri at 114-112 which overruled the 117-109 score for Provodnikov. Algieri boxed while Provodnikov was the more aggressive fighter. HBO’s Steve Weisfeld described it as a “judge’s dilemma,” basically boiling down to a matter of preference. Algieri would admit to BWAA (the Boxing Writers Association of America) President Jack Hirsch along with Maxboxing that he felt he lost the 12th round. Taking that into consideration, did Algieri do enough to win eight rounds of the contest?
 
“I have watched the tape of the fight three times so far,” Algieri confirmed, “twice with the audio on and once with the sound off. I didn’t want to be influenced by the announcers giving their commentary. Each time I saw the fight, I scored it 8-4 for me. I tried to be as honest and as objective as possible. I admit I lost the last round. By the 12th, I was blind in the eye, man. I couldn’t see anything, plus my depth perception was off.”
 
But whether you agree or disagree with decision at this point and time is irrelevant. Hindsight is always 20/20. And after reviewing what initially appeared as a wipeout for Provodnikov, 23-3 (16), the night of June 14 ultimately manifested itself in the form of many close rounds [after the first] that could have been scored for Algieri. At the very least, Algieri deserves credit for exposing Provodnikov as being rather limited. It’s quite possible that the time Algieri spent with trainer Robert Garcia as well as sparring with Marcos Maidana and Brandon Rios paid dividends.
 
“I was in Tampa, Florida, recently. While at the gym, both Jeff Lacy and Antonio Tarver told me that I won the fight,” said Algieri. “After watching the [Timothy] Bradley [vs. Provodnikov] fight is when I realized that I could beat Ruslan. He fights in spots. He has static defense and is a push-and-pull fighter. If you watch the fight closely, you’ll see that by the third and fourthround, I was timing his left hook. I was able to tell when he was going to throw it. Ruslan is a rhythmic fighter whose body language was pretty easy to read. The plan was to not get overzealous and risk getting caught with something stupid.”
 
One interesting postscript surrounding the Algieri-Provodnikov match-up is that seemingly no one, including Top Rank Promotions, Artie Pelullo of Banner Promotions, Joe DeGuardia of Star Boxing or Provodnikov himself, truly knows if there is a rematch clause in the contract. But Provodnikov may have incriminated himself when he went on the record stating that Algieri’s style wasn’t conducive for him.
 
“Fighters should get better when they are world champions,” said Algieri. “You should have the confidence to be able to fight at the highest level against any opponent and win. You should be able to defeat any style that’s put in front of you. Ruslan’s statement really surprised me. But be that as it may, I would still be motivated for a rematch if there is one. He is still a dangerous guy.”
 
So moving forward, the Argentine/Italian-American pugilist has a lot of options available. There are many viable opponents who will make for competitive fights, unification bouts and lucrative pay dates. One name being tossed around is Manny Pacquiao. After all Top Rank CEO Bob Arum promised Algieri a fight with Pacquiao if he were to beat Provodnikov. Presuming Arum’s history as a notorious filibuster, should Algieri take Arum’s promise seriously? Prevailing wisdom suggests a Pacquiao dance-off is unrealistic.
 
“We [Team Algieri] are going to make all of the right moves,” said Algieri. “As far as being realistic goes, anything can happen. Anything is possible. Realistically, I didn’t think the Provodnikov fight would happen. There was a point in my career where I became bored. Fighting at the Paramount was great but I knew there was more out there for me. I always knew that I was an elite fighter; however, I just wasn’t recognized as an elite fighter.”
 
People can say what they want but facts are etched in stone with a golden chisel. Pacquiao is a full-fledged welterweight at 147 pounds, who is winding down his career. It’s hard to envision an Algieri-Pacquiao contest at the moment. A unification bout with either IBF titlist Lamont Peterson or WBA/WBC champion Danny Garcia seems a bit more practical, that is, of course, if Garcia decides to stay at 140 for at least two more fights. Rumor has it that Garcia will be auditioning for the welterweight division after his upcoming title defense on August 9.
 
“The plan is to stay at 140 for the time being,” said Algieri. “I have never had a problem making weight. Instead, I have a problem overtraining for fights. Eventually we will move up to 147 but no higher than that. I would love a fight with Danny Garcia. It’s a makeable fight. We could do it at 147 pounds in the Barclays Center. The atmosphere would be awesome. You have Puerto Rico versus Argentina, New York versus Philly; there are so many different angles. I really want that fight - but everyone is a possibility.”
 
Garcia-Algieri is a safe bet to happen in the immediate future but for now, expect Algieri to grow accustomed to his celebrity status and reap the benefits of his hard labor.
 
“I am excited,” uttered a jubilant Algieri. “I am built for this stuff!”
 
Chris Algieri Fun Facts:
 
- Ladies, Algieri is still single.
 
- Algieri works as a clinical nutritionist when he isn’t training.
 
- Algieri is bilingual. He speaks Spanish fairly well.
 
- Algieri still lives at home with his parents and his brother Michael. Michael has three kids that also live with them.
 
- Algieri got into boxing as a result of hanging out with his maternal grandfather and watching Mike Tyson and Oscar De la Hoya as a child.
 
- Algieri is a former kickboxing champion.
 
- Algieri is an alumnus of Stony Brook University and the New York Institute of Technology.
 
- Algieri acknowledged that Provodnikov is very strong and explosive. “My face was hurting really bad after I got hit in the first round.”
 
- Algieri also stated that Provodnikov is a nice guy. Algieri pointed to the time when Provodnikov was very friendly to Mike Alvarado. Provodnikov walked over to Alvarado to shake his hand and offer words of encouragement. Alvarado conceded against Provodnikov.
 
- Algieri has signed a modeling endorsement deal with a clothing company.
 
- Algieri received his championship belt on the Wednesday after the fight. He is disappointed that he didn’t get to go to Puerto Rico to pick up the strap. “It is a beautiful belt. I really like it.”
 
- Algieri admits he enjoys going through the metal detectors in the airport with the strap as well as watching the belt go through the x-ray machine while on the conveyor belt. “It was a lot of fun, especially out in Vegas.”
 
- Algieri is going for treatment at Eye and Ear Infirmary on 14th Street in Manhattan.
 
- Algieri drives a four-door Honda Accord.
 
- Algieri has been following the World Cup religiously. He cited Argentina, USA and Italy as his favorite teams.
 
- Algieri is picking Erislandy Lara to beat Saul “Canelo” Alvarez but he says Alvarez would beat Miguel Cotto if they ever fought. Algieri sparred with Alvarez four years ago.
 
- On the New York scene, Algieri has only sparred with former WBA welterweight champion Luis Collazo.
 
- Lastly, Algieri told Maxboxing he parted ways with former trainer Robert Garcia due to the big stable of fighters that Garcia was working with. Plus the living conditions in California were described as “not being the best.”
 
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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