Chris Algieri: "The best is yet to come"
With each victory in his professional career, Errol Spence Jr (19-0, 16 KOs) has looked every inch a future world champion. The 2012 Olympian could well be the man who will be king at welterweight over the coming years but tonight at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn (and live on Boxnation in the UK) he faces a 32-year-old ex-world champion who believes his career is only getting started. New Yorker Chris Algieri (21-2, 8 KOs) burst onto the world stage two years ago when he climbed off the canvas twice to take Ruslan Provodnikov’s WBO 140lbs title by split decision at the same venue he competes tonight.
It was the beginning of an all-star period that saw Algieri lose a WBO 147lbs title challenge against Manny Pacquiao in Macao and give Amir Khan all he could handle over 12 rounds last May.
“It’s been a big learning process and it’s been a steep learning curve,” Algieri told Boxing Monthly from New York recently. “Coming off the Ruslan fight to jump into a fight versus a Hall Of Famer immediately and fight him in China was a very, very steep move in terms of stepping up. Then I had to get myself back together and ride the ship from there.
“I think the Amir Khan fight, although the decision didn’t go the way that myself or my team agreed with, was still a step in the right direction. Since then I’ve been staying in the gym, keep learning, keep progressing, keep growing into the welterweight division and I’m just getting more and more confident in my potential that’s getting closer to being reached.”
The former world kickboxing champion has packed in a lot over a 23-fight career that had no amateur backbone to it.
Algieri is a young 32, a hard-working, clean living athlete who has treated his body well for the majority of his life. “I’m very young in terms of mileage,” said Algieri, who has gone the 10 or 12-round distance in six of his last seven fights.
“I think I have a lot more left in terms of being a professional athlete and being a professional boxer. We’ve got so much learning and growing to do. I’ve done a lot in a short period of time. I was a world champion in my 20th boxing fight, not my 20th pro fight…my 20th boxing fight. We’ve had a steep learning curve but the best is honestly yet to come.”
The dedication, the ability, the durability and the fitness of Algieri may well have to be the best it has ever been when he faces Spence. The majority believe that the 26-year-old will have too much in all departments to deal with the New Yorker. Algieri is the underdog on paper and BM asked him if he sees it that way, too.
“No, not at all,” he emphatically replied. “I don’t see it that way. He’s yet to prove himself as a professional. I respect his amateur pedigree greatly. I think he’s a great fighter which is why I’m fighting him. At the same time, he hasn’t proven himself in the pro ranks yet so I don’t see myself as an underdog in this fight as I haven’t seen myself as an underdog in past fights where I was considered such.
“I’m just going to do what I do. It doesn’t matter what people say. And, at the end of the day, it’s just going to be myself and Errol in the ring and my job is to go out there and take him out.”
Algieri, a well-educated, cool customer, doesn’t appear to have his feathers ruffled too often by what opponents have to say about him. During the build-up to this fight, Spence said that Algieri has failed every time he has stepped up in class. He was reminded of that statement during this interview.
“I don’t agree with him saying that,” said Algieri. “My career has been a constant step-up. I came from nothing, I came from nowhere. I had zero amateur boxing background. Every fight I’ve ever had has been a step up and there have been more fights I’ve been supposed to lose than the other way around.
“He has had a completely opposite upbringing. In every single fight, he's been in he was supposed to dominate. He’s supposed to win and I tip my hat to him. He’s done what he’s supposed to do so far with the guys he’s had in front of him but he’s literally never had a step-up fight. I’ve made a career of step-up fights.”