HUNTINGTON, New York, November 20
BY: Andrew Wroblewski
Whether or not Chris Algieri defeats future world boxing hall of famer Manny Pacquiao in Macau, China on Saturday, the Greenlawn native will still remain a champion – a champion of both the World Boxing Organization and the Town of Huntington.
“I think it’s incredible that’s he’s going to be in this fight,” Tony Walters – who was Algieri’s coach during his time with the St. Anthony’s High School wrestling team – said. “I think it’s especially incredible for Huntington where there are so many varieties of cultures, to see a hometown boy fulfill his dream.”
Still coaching at St. Anthony’s, Walters said Algieri’s journey gives hope to others, not just to athletes, but to all people – showing them that if Algieri can reach for the sky, then so can they.
So how did Algieri get to the point of fighting a boxing legend?
The 30-year-old’s professional boxing career began in 2008 and started with 20 straight victories for Algieri (20-0, eight KOs). His latest victory, over Ruslan Provodnikov at the Barclays Center in June, earned Algieri a WBO Light Welterweight title and put him on the track of landing a big-name fight. The champ got just that in July when he accepted an offer to fight Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38 KOs), current holder of the WBO Welterweight title – which will be up for grabs on Saturday. If Algieri wins the fight, which will be broadcast on HBO pay-per-view at 9 p.m. EST, he’ll secure a purse of $1.5 million and will assuredly become an internationally known name.
To be successful, Algieri will have to draw from his success against Provodnikov five months ago, Steven Stone, general manager of TITLE Boxing Club in Huntington, said.
“First off, based on what I saw in the last fight, he really learned a hard lesson in the first round to not try and brawl with these guys,” Stone said. Algieri was knocked down in the first round of the Provodnikov fight after being a bit too aggressive.
“Chris is a cerebral fighter; he needs to use the jab and his height to his advantage,” Stone added.
By using his reach (72”) and height (5’10”) – three-and-a-half inches taller than Pacquiao – Algieri needs to keep his opponent at bay and frustrated, Stone said. Learning from the Provodnikov fight, Stone believes the first round will be especially important for Algieri on Saturday.
“The first round is like the first inning of the World Series for a pitcher: the nerves are high, the adrenaline is pumping,” Stone said. “He needs to stay under control and feel Pacquiao out. Chris only builds on each round and gets better and better – I’ve never seen a more conditioned fighter – and he needs to take advantage of that.”
Strategy aside, when Algieri gets into the ring on Saturday, Stone wants to make sure the boxer can hear Huntington cheers all the way in China.
One place where those cheers will be especially loud is Rookies Sports Club in Huntington village, which will host a special viewing party for the fight. With a $20 cover charge, patrons can reserve a table and receive a ticket for one drink – beer, well drink or wine – along with a front-row seat to the fight. Rookies General Manager Deanna Bradshaw is recommending those interested call ahead to make a reservation as “it’s going to get crazy.”
“As the week progresses we’re getting more and more excited,” Bradshaw said. “It’s going to be awesome; even more exciting than his last fight, with a lot of energy. Everyone will be rooting for him.”
Bradshaw said that the excitement has been mounting as the week draws on and she’s hoping all of that will culminate to a big crowd coming out to support their hometown guy.
Originally published: Long Islander News: Half Hollow Hills
(Thursday, November 20, 2014; A3)