By Andrew Wroblewski
An underdog; a long shot; an unknown – time and time again, Greenlawn’s Chris Algieri has been overlooked. While not ideal, these mantras haven’t slowed the 31-year-old professional boxer – if anything, he’s embraced them.
“That’s what I’ve been my whole career: an underdog,” Algieri said. “I’m a kid from Long Island; I’m not supposed to be boxing.”
Upset victories over Emmanuel Taylor and Ruslan Provodnikov have proved that wrong, however, as Algieri’s name has become relevant but perhaps not yet respected.
As his Friday-night title bout at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn draws nearer, in the minds of Algieri’s critics, he’s facing an uphill battle against Amir Khan.
Though on Monday, as Algieri trained at Bellmore Kickboxing MMA, he said that he’s ready to shift the notion of “Algieri” being the name of a sleeper.
“You’ve got a guy like Amir Khan who has never been the underdog; he’s supposed to win every fight that he’s been in, [but] he has three losses. The mentality shift, I think, is an important aspect of this fight,” he said.
After enduring training camp in Florida with his new trainer John David Jackson, Algieri was back on Long Island for fight week, which will culminate with the trip to the Barclays Center – the venue where he defeated Provodnikov and earned the World Boxing Organization (WBO) Light Welterweight championship last year. Algieri (20-1, 8 KOs) was forced to vacate that title when he went on to fight Manny Pacquiao in November 2014, but another title opportunity presents itself as the Greenlawn native can claim the World Boxing Council (WBC) Silver Welterweight title with a victory on May 29.
In order to do that, Algieri said, it’ll be a test of his endurance.
“[Khan] is a difficult fight for anybody – he’s fast, he’s got a big amateur background and multiple world championship fights, so he’s going to come out fast like he always does,” Algieri said. “He’s a sprinter, but I have great endurance. He’s a fast [fighter], but I have great timing. Those are my advantages [and] I’m going to try and capitalize on those all night long.”
Standing at 5-foot-10, Algieri also has a physical advantage over the 5-foot-9 Khan – including a one-inch advantage in reach, which Algieri also holds.
Khan (30-3, 19 KOs) is 28 years old and hails from Bolton, England. Of the three losses that Khan has suffered, two of them have been to fighters that held an advantage in reach over him – Lamont Peterson on Dec. 10, 2011 and Breidis Prescott on Sept. 6, 2008.
Though small leads, they could play a factor in the fight, Algieri said.
“He’s not used to being the shorter guy,” he said. “It’s not a big height and reach difference, but he’s not used to that. He’s used to being the guy with the advantage so that could play a part from his aspect – but I’m just going to do what I do.”
Even though the odds are against Algieri – VegasInsider.com listed Algieri as a +900 underdog on Sunday – the “hometown” crowd of the Barclays Center should almost assuredly give Algieri a motivational advantage come Friday. With that, Algieri said, a sense of familiarity has emerged as he compared the upcoming Khan fight to that of the Provodnikov fight, which will have taken place a year ago come June 14.
“There’s an extra level of excitement when you’re at home,” Algieri said. “To be in my home gym for the first time in five-and-a-half weeks, there’s just a sense of familiarity. And that level of excitement with your home people being able to watch you – they’re going to be right there in the crowd. It just ups the level of fight week, which is intense to begin with.”
Algieri will look to make some more magic happen at the Barclays Center on Friday as the fight is set to be televised by SpikeTV beginning at 9 p.m. EST.
“I’ve got that feeling again,” he said, “[there’s] another magical night ahead.”