The trek to China has been so far, so good for Long Island boxer Chris Algieri, who seeks to cement what would be a Fighter of the Year sort of campaign if he pulls off shocker number two in 2014, and downs Manny Pacquiao in Macau on Nov. 22.
The Huntington Heartthrob took to the air late Thursday night, and sat through the 17 hours of travel time so he could make the Monday presser in Macau, so the drums to hype the fight could be beaten appropriately. Shanghai comes after Macau, then San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York.
The trip went well, though there were some butterflies in his belly when he went to get the bag in which he'd placed his WBO junior welterweight belt.
He unzipped it, and voila, there it was, gleaming, the smell of the leather reminding him of what he'd done once, confounded the experts by beating a heavily favored foe.
"I was nervous, but it's all good," Algieri told me.
And did he get to do some sightseeing, check out Macau much? (Keep in mind Macau is 12 hours ahead of his time zone, East Coast USA.) "It's packed all day long at the Venetian (where he is staying)," he said. "The gym employees were ecstatic I was here. I took pictures with about 10 guys."
Sunday was a day off, to stroll, check out the lay of the land. In theory, Algieri could have gone bar hopping, soaking up the local culture in liquid form, while enjoying attention of curious and appreciative lovelies who might like to get to know an American boxing champ up close. But so sorry, those looking to snag a vicarious thrill…He reported he did some sight seeing, but hammered home that this is a non-leisure trip. "I brought my boots and gloves."
Sure, he took note of the crew of lithe and bubbly pro dancers from England who are there in Macau, on contract…but he didn't do all that much exploring of the region. "I really checked out the lay of the land at the Venetian. I made a mental checklist of how to approach my time out here in November," said Algieri, who will spend the last couple weeks before the bout to best acclimate to the time zone and atmosphere.
Macau vet Freddie Roach, the trainer for Manny Pacquiao, and the man who cornered Ruslan Provodnikov June 14 in Brooklyn, when Algieri shook off two knockdowns and rebounded to set in motion a pure pugilism program, using movement and volume to take rounds, has been kind enough to share some of his info. "Freddie gave us a tour of the restaurants in the hotel," he said.
I don't think Roach had any ulterior motive, wasn't looking to assess Algieri's physique and attitude, or kill him with kindness, try to blunt his fire. No, he knows what the Long Islander can do. "I underestimated Algieri when he faced Ruslan Provodnikov in June but I won't make that mistake again," Roach said at the Macau presser. "I hope he understands that this is a fight and not a marathon. Algieri is going to face the best of Manny Pacquiao because Manny is going to have his toughest training camp ever. I am looking forward to a great fight and Manny's finest hour on November 22."
So, in summation, it sounds like for Algieri, gameface is attached, and there is no inclination to soak up the experience as part tourist, then?
"Exactly," Algieri told me. "This is work time."
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