Chris Algieri: An Unlikely Champion

Chris Algieri  

Michael Buffer is unflappable. On fight night, the greatest ring announcer in boxing history is the epitome of cool . . . Composed, collected, imperturbable. Choose your adjective.

Thus, the shock on Buffer’s face was telling as he stood in the ring at Barclays Center and reviewed the judges’ scorecards one last time before announcing the decision at the end of twelve rounds of action between Ruslan Provodnikov and Chris Algieri.

Provodnikov, a 6-to-1 betting favorite, had scored two first-round knockdowns and been the aggressor throughout the fight. Algieri had spent much of the evening in retreat as a one-eyed fighter. The widespread assumption at ringside was that “The Siberian Rocky” had retained his 140-pound WBO title by a comfortable margin.

It was the end of a long night. Earlier in the evening, the June 14 card had featured both the good and the bad.

Local favorite Heather Hardy was awarded a horrible decision over Jackie Trivilino in a fight that went to the scorecards after seven rounds due to a severe cut suffered by Hardy as a consequence of an accidental head butt. FIght fans want their fighter to win. But they also have a sense of fairness. There were a lot of boos when Hardy’s victory was announced by a 68-65, 67-66, 66-67 margin.

Then, in round three of a junior-welterweight bout, Fedor Papazov decked Miguel Angel Mendoza with a picture perfect right hand. Mendoza rose on wobbly legs. Everything else about him was wobbling too. It’s unclear what referee Gary Rosato was watching at the time. But it didn’t appear to be Mendoza, because Rosato motioned for the action to continue. Fortunately, ring doctor Avery Browne climbed onto the ring apron and stopped the fight.

After that, unbeaten light-heavyweight Seanie Monaghan continued his maturation by pounding out a lopsided ten-round decision over 35-year-old Elvir Muriqi. Muriqi is now a respectable 40-and-7 with 24 knockouts and only 1 KO by. But over the course of sixteen years, his career has gone from prospect to journeyman without much in between.

Next up was Demetrius Andrade vs. Brian Rose, another of boxing’s unfortunate “mandatory” title defenses (in this instance, for the WBO 154-pound belt).

Andrade-Rose was a woeful mismatch from beginning to end. There wasn’t one moment when the outcome of the fight was in doubt. Demetrius circled his opponent throughout the bout, knocking him down in the first and third rounds and pounding on him like he was a heavy bag. Rose wasn’t good enough to make things boring (let alone, interesting). It was just plain ugly. The challenger’s corner correctly stopped the carnage at 1:19 of round seven when the usually reliable referee Mike Griffin failed to do so.

That set the stage for Provodnikov-Algieri.

Fans want to see exciting fights. Provodnikov, age thirty, is an exciting fighter. He attacks with ferocity, hits and gets hit, and engages in wars of attrition.

“To be honest, I am not one of the most talented boxers,” Ruslan acknowledged at a June 7 media sitdown. “But I fight my hardest for every minute of every round.”