I get the notion that he is supremely confident and fearless. I don’t think he’s one of those fighters who are consumed with “what if I lose” like many other fighters are. My impression of him is that losing doesn’t lessen or define how he sees himself as a man. I’m speaking of Manny Pacquiao challenger Chris Algieri 20-0 (8) and that was the content of an e-mail I exchanged with a great friend whose boxing acumen I have as much regard for as anyone I’ve ever met in my life. And the scary thing about that is, he replied, “Frank, we see this one differently.”
However, I can’t shake the vibe that I get signifying he is authentically tough when I observe this Algieri. Those are my feelings and thoughts without ever having met or spoken to him. There’s just a quiet confidence about him that reminds me of other baby faced tough guys I’ve encountered over the years. I could be off on this one, but based on how he weathered the hurricane in the first round he was met with when he fought Ruslan Provodnikov in his last fight, I’m betting that if I’ve misjudged him, it’s not by much.
Algieri was captain of his high school wrestling team, as was my best friend in high school. Having befriended and worked out with a few wrestlers/grapplers, I know they’re pretty tough guys. He also has a black belt in Kempo karate, which is a striking art, and he was a professional kick boxer. I wouldn’t be fooled by his boy next door looks and demeanor, Algieri loves combat sports and training. I seriously doubt that he’s in awe of Manny Pacquiao. Respectful of him, absolutely, but he won’t come apart when he’s clocked in the mouth by him for the first time when they face each other on November 22. If there was any dog in Algieri, it would’ve surfaced during the first round against Provodnikov when he was hurt, beat up and knocked down. He weathered that storm and came back to out-box and out fight Provodnikov to win the bout by a point on my card. This is a fighter who has not been spoon fed or coddled like so many other guys who were pumped up because they were a good story and supposedly could fight.
“It’s genetic, I’m tall for the weight class,” Algieri said. “I’m not built to go in there and stand in front of a man and trade bombs. Why would I do that when I’ve got length, I’ve got range, I’ve got speed and I’ve got foot work and defense?”
The above indicates that Chris is a cerebral fighter and no doubt knows what he wants to do and understands his limitations. I like that about him. However, I also must be intellectually honest, and it must be pointed out, aside from some Mike Tyson opponents (Peter McNeeley and Kevin McBride), has there ever been any main event fighter on a PPV card since 1988 that has fewer qualifications than Algieri?
But you know what? I can’t say I have a problem with that for the following reason. If it wasn’t Algieri, it would’ve been someone else to play the warm body for Pacquiao in China. And the reason for that is, Pacquiao needs an opponent with a back story, which Chris definitely has. I also believe Bob Arum feels that he has to be careful regarding who he puts Pacquiao in with. And the perfect opponent is one that lacks experience and big power, but one who can capture the imagination of new boxing fans and not get blown out in a round or two. The fight is not a fraud by today’s standards because Algieri legitimately beat Provodnikov to win the WBO junior welterweight title.
PPV fights have become so common since the emergence of Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao circa 2007-2008 that it’s almost ridiculous. Depending on how you break it down, starting with Mike Tyson’s first round knockout of Michael Spinks back in June of 1988, through Lewis-Holyfield II in November of 1999, there were 25 PPV cards. Starting with Lennox Lewis’s second round knockout over Michael Grant in April of 2000, there have been 45 PPV bouts concluding with Saul Alvarez’s split decision over Erislandy Lara this past summer. Let’s forget about the 1980 and 1990s, and take into account 2000-2014. That’s 45 PPV cards and 90 fighters who fought the main event. And of those 90 fighters, only Kevin McBride who fought Mike Tyson in his last fight was less accomplished than Algieri, and you have to go back to 1995 and inject Tyson opponent Peter McNeeley to find another less credentialed fighter than Chris who was part of the main event of a PPV card.
I know that’s harsh, but I think Chris is honest enough that he would probably agree if he matched his record with the fighters who made up the PPV cards stated above. I respect his work and what he has accomplished as a boxer and title holder, but in an earlier era, I don’t think Pacquiao-Algieri would go over as a PPV attraction. But it does today because Mayweather and Pacquiao have conditioned the public to accept every time they fight it’s assumed it’s PPV and that signifies their opponent is worthy. And even that’s starting to wane, as evidenced by Arum hurrying Pacquiao off to China with the hope of cultivating an Asian following.
Let me state it once more, I’m not ripping Algieri, just stating the way it is. And by this time next year, there will probably be a fighter representing the “B” side of a PPV card that makes Chris Algieri’s resume look like Roberto Duran’s. And most likely he’ll be an opponent of Mayweather or Pacquiao. That’s the way boxing is trending. One of these days fans will wake up and realize that Pacquiao and Mayweather are really getting over on them having to pay extra to see them every time they fight regardless of who the fighter is in the other corner.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com
—- Photo Credit : Chris Farina – Top Rank