By Andrew Wroblewski
When the judges’ decision was announced Friday night at the Barclays Center, Greenlawn’s Chris Algieri was unanimously defeated by Amir Khan. Through 12 rounds, the judges ruled, Khan was the better boxer.
Yet, in the eyes of many, Algieri was the better performer. Thanks to an aggressive new style, the 31-year-old former world champion was a victor even in defeat.
“[Algieri] definitely showed that he’s a way better fighter than people gave him credit for being,” John David Jackson, Algieri’s trainer, said after the fight. “We definitely got a victory in defeat… In defeat, he still came out better than Amir did.”
Coming off the first defeat of his career when he faced Manny Pacquiao last year, Algieri (20-2, 8 KOs) entered the May 29 bout with Khan (31-3, 19 KOs) as a major underdog – a +800 underdog, according to online gambling service Bovada.
In the Pacquiao fight, Algieri boxed a mostly defensive style and fell to the eight-division world champion by unanimous decision.
Though the result was ultimately the same against Khan, Algieri did away with the defensive style and, instead, embraced his athletic ability and instincts.
“I don’t think I took a backwards step in the full 12 rounds,” Algieri said. “I felt great in there; I felt like I was in control a lot of the rounds… [John] is allowing me to be myself. The style I fought tonight – I had fun. That’s the way I want to fight… I can’t stress that enough. I had fun in the ring tonight, and I can’t really say that I’ve had that in a long time.”
From the get-go, Algieri came out firing. Through six rounds, Algieri pressured Khan who later said he was surprised by the aggressive mentality that his opponent brought to the table.
“He came forward a lot more than we thought he would and he had a big chin tonight,” Khan said. “This is the best Algieri we've seen in a long time, and if he'd have fought Manny that way, he might have won.”
Judges Don Ackerman, Joseph Pasquale and Benoit Roussel, however, weren’t as impressed with Algieri’s aggression when the 12 rounds came to a close. Ackerman had the fight the closest as he ruled 115-113 in favor of Khan, but both Pasquale and Roussel both saw the fight as a clearer win for Khan, coming in at 117-111.
“I’m a competitor and I’m a fighter, so of course I feel that I won the fight,” Algieri said. “I felt great in there. I felt like I landed the cleaner, harder shots. I feel like I buzzed him several times throughout the fight. When that final bell rang, I thought it was my fight.”
Statistically, it was clear that Khan counter-attacked Algieri successfully, as he out-landed the Greenlawn-native in both jabs and power punches. According to CompuBox, Khan threw 609 punches to Algieri’s 703, but landed 218 to Algieri’s 199. Khan also landed 46.2 percent of his power punches to Algieri’s 33.5 percent – a difference that may have ultimately helped Khan claim the decision.
Still, Algieri’s camp was satisfied with the fight.
“I thought Chris did a great job. I was very impressed and pleased with the way he executed the game plan,” Joe DeGuardia, president and CEO of Algieri’s promoter, Star Boxing, said. “We’re obviously disappointed with the loss and disappointed with the spread of the decision, but pleased that he had a good fight.”
Looking past the result, Algieri looked forward to getting back into the gym in order to work with Jackson – a former world-champion boxer and now world-champion trainer whom Algieri began working with in March.
“It’s still improvement season,” Algieri said. “It’s only going up from here… I’m looking forward to the future and to keep developing as a fighter.”