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Don’t Write Off Chris Algieri

By Sean Crose

One thing you can always rely on regarding boxing is the fact that it will always be, you know…boxing. Trainers Robert Garcia and Freddie Roach continued showcasing their charming relationship before the public this week, with Garcia claiming Chris Algieri has a good shot of polishing off Roach protege Ruslan Provodnikov Saturday night at the Barclay’s Center. Roach subsequently responded with a four letter word that begins with “F,” then went on to seemingly accuse Garcia of being an alcoholic. Again, you can always count on boxing being boxing.

One thing you can’t count on boxing being, however, is a source of predictable results. Bad blood aside, Garcia was right to point out Algieri’s formidable ability as a fighter. What’s more, other notable members of the boxing community have been indicating Algieri can or will pull off an upset this weekend, as well. Know something? He just might.

Perhaps you’ve never seen the Long Island native in the ring. Undoubtedly, most people haven’t. Those who have, however, have watched a skilled fighter of what they used to call the “scientific” variety in action. Provodnikov has accused the man of being a “runner.” Undoubtedly many greats, from Jim Corbett to Gene Tunney to Willie Pep to Muhammed Ali to Floyd Mayweather have been called “runners,” too. That hasn’t kept any of them from being considered among the greatest of all time.

Not that I’m implying Algieri belongs in the ranks of such notables. Nor am I indicating that I think the man is going to win this weekend. Provodnikov is a frightening warrior. What’s more, Freddie Roach’s fighters don’t seem to get frustrated with slick opponents the way other aggressive fighters do. What I’m saying, however, is that Algieri stands a chance of pulling off the upset. A solid chance. So don’t be surprised if the rest of the world ends up stunned this weekend.

The fact that Algieri is largely an unknown commodity, coupled with the fact that he has a Master’s Degree and dreams outside the ring, may be what’s led the fight world to not so much write him off as to almost refuse to even acknowledge him at all. Let’s face it, the guy’s been viewed not as the undefeated contended that he is, but as the faceless “opponent” one’s apt to see in so many boxing movie montages.

That’s a mistake. While it’s true Algieri wasn’t raised with the hardship Provodnikov was (Provodnikov’s Siberian upbringing, for the record, seems to have been at least as harsh as those of most fighters raised in the Western Hemisphere), he has a quality about him which makes him dangerous. For boxing, Algieri told ESPNs Brian Campbell is his “passion.” And, corny as it may sound, passion is a key to success in the ring. Why? Because those who don’t have it are apt to get hurt. Those who do have it, however…

“I still don’t have to do this,” Algieri said to Campbell. “I do this because I love the sport.” He loves the sport so much that he’s willing to trade punches with someone who caused Timothy Bradley’s speech to slur, someone who literally beat Mike Alvarado into submission. If that’s not passion, I don’t know what is.

Of course, Provodnikov has passion, too. Boatloads of it. Like Algieri, he also doesn’t intend on overstaying his welcome in the ring. While he’s fighting for a living, however, the junior welterweight champion intends to go right through anything in his path. And right now, the one thing standing in his path is Chris Algieri. Things should be interesting on Saturday.

Like the great Angelo Dundee once said: “Certain people beat certain people – that’s boxing.”

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