Most fans saw Algieri like they did the hopeless goat tied to the tree in “Jurassic Park,” simply waiting for the T-Rex to come along and eat him alive.
Algieri, although 19-0 (8), was unknown for the most part to the majority of boxing fans and his résumé was not raising many eyebrows. Most fans tuned in to watch him get dismantled by Provodnikov.
The major criticism of Algieri was the same that has dogged Paulie Malignaggi his entire career: great boxer, no power. Boxing “experts” questioned the motives of those who would put Algieri in a ring with a man referred to as a “beast” and expected Algieri to meet the same fate as Malignaggi did when he faced Sean Porter - if not worse.
Algieri entered the ring with the same team of unheralded trainers and cornermen as he has his entire career, in sharp contrast to the superstar corner of Provodnikov led by legendary trainer Freddie Roach.
And shortly into the first round, it appeared the “experts” were correct as Providnikov, always pressing forward, caught Algieri with a crushing left hook to the right eye as he was coming off the ropes.
The shot dropped Algieri with such force that he literally somersaulted back up to his feet. But the way he pawed at his eye made it easy to see he had been badly hurt. Referee Harvey Dock allowed Algieri to continue and Provodnikov immediately attacked again, causing Algieri to smartly take a knee to try and gather himself so he could survive the round, which he did but he was in deep, deep water.
As the second round began, it became obvious that Algieri wouldn’t quit. With his eye swelling and beginning to close, he amazingly began to control the fight with a lightning fast jab and tremendous lateral movement, frustrating Provodnikov, who continued to lumber forward, as is his style, but Algieri continually slipped away. Over and over he caught Provodnikov with lefts and rights as he moved away from Provodnikov’s relentless attack.
As the rounds went on, two things became obvious: one, it was only a matter of time before Algieri’s eye would be swollen shut and, two, regardless of that, he had taken control and was winning the fight.
The “Siberian Rocky” had met Long Island’s version of Apollo Creed.
By the 10th round, Algieri was blind on his right side but Provodnikov couldn’t capitalize because Algieri was simply too fast.
The 11th and 12th round went the same way and as the split decision was announced by Michael Buffer, Algieri’s hand was raised in victory.
What most “experts” thought was impossible had happened and Chris Algieri had delivered the upset of the year to date, leaving the Barclays Center as the new WBO light welterweight champion of the world.
Based on his unbelievable performance, Algieri is now under consideration as the next opponent for Manny Pacquiao. Of course the “experts” are already weighing in on how he would have no chance against Manny.
Guess we’ll have to wait and see but one thing is for sure; Chris Algieri has too much heart to go quietly into the night and that is something in which no “expert” can speculate.
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