He is not who they think he is, the guy who went to the mat six times against Manny Pacquiao. That’s what Chris Algieri is planning to show us. He isn’t exactly desperate to prove otherwise, but Algieri is undoubtedly committed to correct the record, to show the world that he belongs on the biggest of stages, that he is the caliber of athlete he knows in his heart he is, the sort that can beat an A grade guy, like Amir Khan.
Proving time will come May 29, in Brooklyn, at Barclays Center, on a PBC card portions of which will run on SPIKE.
I chatted with boxing’s top advocate of avocado consumption on Thursday, and checked in, on his training, on his psyche, on what he thought of that Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, and more.
First, the avocados..Where is he at with those?
“Steady,” the Long Islander said with a chuckle. Any more and he’d maybe be in danger of emitting green excrement, so his intake is right where he wants it, he said.
Inspector Gadget blared in the background as my little one looked awed at the capabilities of the bionic detective. What about Algieri…is he now in a mode like Gadget, ready to dazzle with majestic pugilistic powers at his disposal? Is this a “new and improved” version of the guy who sounded mightily confident going in to his bout with Pacman last year? Basically, yes, he told me. He didn’t know how much he didn’t know until he hooked up with ace tutor John David Jackson early this year; now, he says, he is learning something new every day in the gym, and he feels fully embracing of the fighting style he’s employing and the game plan against the rock-solid Brit, who under Virgil Hunter is the best version of himself he can be.
Algieri on the down low visited JDJ in Florida, did a couple mini camps, to see how they jelled. They jelled, he reports. They talked fight POV, mindset for the future, goals, they did pad work, they worked on positioning of feet, they sparred in a different manner than he was used to. So, did he find buried treasure, a version of himself that glitters a bit more?
“Something like that,” the 31-year-old hitter, promoted by Joe DeGuardia, told me. “I can’t quantify how much better I will be, but I am the guy that is going to win this fight versus Khan.”
Looking back, he didn’t love the camp he had for Pacman, or the game plan, giving away early rounds with a plan to pour it on later. The style he’s fighting now suits him to a T, he says, and is natural to him. We will see aggression, but smart aggression, and he says he’s having even more fun now.We both agree that Khan is A grade, and Algieri understands why he’s an underdog. I told him he deserves some credit for going in tough, not taking a mental re-building bout. “I want to prove I’m at the elite level. Competition is about beating the best guys out there. I have no doubt I belong. None. I think I’m one of the best in the world.”
Props to the kid for putting that out there. He’s no “hedge fund manager,” leaving space for failure. No, he wants to fight the best and he is risking criticism if he loses, and goes 0 for 2 in his last two scraps. For that, he deserves credit, because he’s not putting it on a manager to plot his course. He’s seeking out the top challenges and will absorb the plaudits or slings and arrows if he wins, or if he loses.
Regarding that MayPac bout, Algieri noted that Manny didn’t seem fully focused coming in.
“I didn’t expect him to win,” he said, but he maybe did expect a slightly better showing. And no, he’s not keen, as I am not, to see a sequel. One and done, thanks; neither of us see how the outcome could look much different. “Anyway, on May 29, people are going to see footwork, range being important, two athletic guys, two reactive guys, and real boxing people will enjoy it. I’m going to fight, turn up the heat. It’s been hot in Florida, and I will be turning up the heat.”
Chris Algieri, seeking to alert all that he belongs on the biggest of stages, and ready to leave the cage jokes in the dust….