By Andrew Wroblewski
What does a first-time world champion boxer do after he shocks the world?
Go to the beach.
That’s where St. Anthony’s High School grad Chris Algieri – winner of the World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior welterweight championship last month – spent his time earlier this week as he recovered from a fight that left him a bit bruised and battered, but a champion nonetheless.
“I was never a trinket or trophy guy… but this one is a little different,” said Algieri, who won the title by defeating Ruslan Provodnikov in a split decision at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on June 14. “It’s a thing of beauty… ‘My beauty’… I want more of these things.”
The fight lasted 12 rounds and featured an Algieri that was faced with a monumental disadvantage as Provodnikov was able to force the Greenlawn native to the mat with a crippling first-round blow to the right eye, causing it to swell to the point of uselessness by the 12th round.
Now, though, with the belt safely secured and almost an entire month passed, Algieri was proud to announce that the eye is “great.”
“The bruising is all gone,” the 30-year-old said. “There’s still a little bit of red left, but there was no damage to my retina or my cornea so it’s good to go.”
With the eye healed, Algieri will safely be able to return to his activities outside of the ring, which include soaking up the sun on the beach, modeling, and – as of Sunday – acting.
“I turn down a lot of offers, but this came up after my fight against Emmanuel Taylor on ESPN,” Algieri said of his recent guest role on the CBS show “Unforgettable,” which aired on July 6. “I never acted before, but the whole experience was a lot of fun and [Sunday] was the first time I’ve seen the final cut.”
Despite seeming poised to jump into a Hollywood career, Algieri isn’t letting the fame get to him.
With the prize money from the fight – which earned the champ a cool $100,000 – Algieri has made the responsible decision of paying off his student loan debt of $50,000, which he incurred from his time at Stony Brook University where he earned a master’s degree in clinical nutrition.
“I paid them all off, and I’d like to buy a car, too,” Algieri said, saying he might purchase a Honda Accord.
Even with the loans finally paid off, though, Algieri still has ambitions of going back to school once his boxing career comes to an end.
“I definitely want to continue my education,” he said. “I feel like I have a lot more to offer and intellectually, I’m still hungry.”
While Algieri is still unsure where he’ll land as far as education goes, the boxer has high hopes for his career in the ring as he seeks “fighter of the year” honors for 2014. Before that dream becomes a reality, though, Algieri knows he still has some work to do.
“I usually fight three fights a year. This year I’ve already done two, so I’ve only got one more and I’m hoping it’ll be a big win,” said Algieri, who seeks a big-name fight in the fall with boxers like Manny Pacquiao – current holder of the WBO welterweight title belt. “Those are the kinds of names that are being thrown around.”
As his boxing ambitions and stardom grow, Algieri must regretfully say farewell to the venue that helped get him to the championship status that he’s achieved today. The boxer announced that he will no longer be fighting at The Paramount – a venue which he has graced several times in his boxing career.
“I love the place, but in terms of where I fight, I need to keep getting bigger and better,” Algieri said of The Paramount. “I really do appreciate what [The Paramount] did for me, but I enjoyed fighting at the Barclays Center and I need bigger venues.”
Even with The Paramount in Algieri’s rearview mirror, it doesn’t mean Huntington’s own is forgetting about his roots entirely.
On Monday, A.J. Carter, town spokesman, announced that Algieri will serve as a grand marshal at Huntington Station’s annual Awareness Day parade on Sept. 6.