By Sean Crose
“I had to fight my way to get here,” American Chris Algieri claimed during a Tuesday conference call to promote his November 22nd bout with Filipino Manny Pacquiao.
He’s right. It’s easy to think of Algieri as someone who’s simply had things handed to him. He’s articulate, clean cut and handsome. He’s also educated and has emerged from a comfortable middle class environment.
Yet there’s more to the man than meets the eye.
“I’ve been the underdog in many of the fights in my career, especially this year,” he claimed correctly. Indeed, the man’s been fighting in the dark for most of his time in the ring. He may certainly relish the spotlight now, but it’s been a while coming.
That’s something Algieri is clearly aware of. “It’s going to be nothing, nothing, nothing,” Algieri said of the fight game, “then – boom – explosion.”
There’s no doubt Algieri has exploded onto the scene since his upset – and clearly controversial – victory over Ruslan Provodnikov last June. The media loves this guy. Loves him. This writer has quite frankly never seen – or, in this case, heard – anything quite like it in the sport of boxing.
That’s not hyperbole, either. By and far, the questions lodged at Algieri on Tuesday were all about Algieri. Boxing was simply not discussed at length. Reporters wanted to know which medical school Algieri preferred. They wanted to know what field of medicine he wished to study. They even wanted his thoughts on what he likes to drink.
Manny Pacquiao was mentioned – but only on occasion.
“He’s one of the greatest fighters that ever lived,” Algieri said of his opponent. Still, he made it clear he felt he was going to win on the 22nd. “I have the tools and the talent to win this fight,” Algieri stated.
There was no denying that Tuesday’s call was a love fest. Very few – and I mean very few – people on the call vocally wondered what the Long Island native planned to do in the ring against Pacquiao – or how he planned to physically deal with the legend from the Philippians.
Not that Algieri wasn’t happy to discuss such matters.
“I am an aggressive style boxer,” he said. “I throw a lot of punches. I’m an active fighter.” Just like Pacquiao.
“I bring a lot of energy and combinations and punches in every single round,” Algieri claimed.
As for fighters he admires, Algieri mentioned a man who’s been in the sport’s pages a lot lately. “Bernard Hopkins,” he offered. “His style–everything he does is for a reason.”
Truth be told, Algieri is an old school stylist himself. He even openly regrets the fact that boxing isn’t as skill oriented as it once was.
“Boxing is incredibly, incredibly complicated,” he stated. “It’s not Rock-M-Sock-M-Robots.”
If only Algieri had been allowed to discuss the sport he loves more on Tuesday. This is a talented person with a lot of heart, after all. Sadly, though, it wasn’t meant to be.
“This has been a very, very intelligent kind of promotion,” promoter Bob Arum claimed before the call wrapped up. That may be true, but boxing CAN be spoken of intelligently. Not every question has to be about lifestyle, mental conditioning, past employment and educational background.
Still, as Woody Allen said, the heart wants what the heart wants. And the hearts of boxing journalists now, by and large, want Algieri.
On a side note, Arum was asked about Mayweather-Pacquiao for what must have been the millionth time in his career. His response was classic Arum–and it was priceless.
“Floyd Mayweather is reluctant to fight Manny Pacquiao, period,” he claimed. “If people are reluctant to see that now, they’re never going to see it.”
Amen to that.