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Algieri vs Pacquiao: “I’m going to shock the world”

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CHRIS ALGIERI believes he can follow his upset win over Ruslan Profodnikov with an even bigger one over Manny Pacquiao at The Venetian Macao on Sunday morning, when the American challenges the Filipino favourite for the WBO welterweight title at Clash in Cotai II.

 

November 16, 2014: Polite, clean-cut, well educated and a world champion in two sports, Chris Algieri is a true all-American hero, with a Bachelor of Science degree in health care management and a Masters degree in clinical nutrition.

 

At 19, the New Yorker turned pro as a kickboxer and became a world champion with a 20-0 record, before taking up boxing and turning pro in April 2008, a month after turning 24.

 

Now 30, Algieri has compiled an unbeaten record (20-0, 8 KOs), but puts it at risk in his first fight outside New York when he challenges Manny Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38 KOs) for the WBO welterweight title at The Venetian Macao on Sunday morning.

 

Algieri earned the fight with Pacquiao by upsetting Ruslan Profodnikov for the WBO junior welterweight title in June, coming back from two first-round knockdowns to win a split decision, despite fighting 11½ rounds with a badly bruised right eye.

 

Tall for his weight class at five-foot 10, Algieri boasts a long reach, fast jab, fantastic footwork and tremendous conditioning, which when combined with the courage and self-belief shown against Profodnikov, make him a worthy contender.

 

Algieri – who aspires to attend medical school when he stops boxing – recently arrived in Macau from a training camp at The Venetian Las Vegas, as he continues a life story that echoes both Cinderella and Rocky – a fierce combination on any card.

 

Interview Conference call from Las Vegas  Photos Top Rank

 

So, how are you feeling ahead of the big fight on Sunday morning?

Training camp has gone fantastic and it has been a tremendous lead-up going into fight week. All of our work is done and now we’re ready to shock the world.

 

How did it feel to carry the pre-fight publicity in the USA, with Manny training in the Philippines?

It has been fantastic. It’s the kind of stuff that you want as a fighter coming up. I am now a champion and fighting at the elite level and you want this kind of exposure. A lot of guys say this, but when it comes they really don’t want it. I’m not that kind of guy. This stuff gets me up. My open workouts are like fight day. I’ve got a lot of pressure on me and I ride it to the top. I am enjoying my time under the microscope and I believe that has helped our whole team step up to perform that much better.

 

Manny Pacquiao and Chris Algieri will contest the Clash in Cotai II on Sunday morning.

Manny Pacquiao and the much taller Chris Algieri will contest the Clash in Cotai II in Macau on Sunday morning.

This is actually the first time I’m fighting when I’m not working as well. I have been a full-time boxer for this camp, so all of this other stuff I’ve been doing is kind of in par with stuff I was doing anyway. I am a guy that does a million other things in addition to boxing. I have a lot of other stuff that I have been into my entire career and I have put all of that on hold now. I am doing more stuff involving the actual promotion of the fight, like doing interviews and making appearances, so I’m no busier than I have ever been. I’ve always been a busy guy.

 

What else were you doing apart from boxing or kickboxing?

I used to be a full-time student, either at Stony Brook or NYU getting my Masters degree. After I graduated with my Masters, I was working as a nutritionist and a personal trainer, so previously I always had other business or other things going on while training for a fight. I was training people on the Tuesday of the fight week against Ruslan.

 

What type of people were you training?

I had some very fit people. I worked with a lot of athletes, especially combat athletes; MMA fighters like [Dennis] Bermudez, [Chris] Weidman, and boxers and MMA fighters on the lower levels. Then also middle-aged mothers that want to get back in shape after pregnancy or just being home and not training. I had a very varied client list.

 

If you beat Manny, what do you think that does for the sport?

I would hope that it would attract a more mainstream audience and have a crossover appeal – we need to get more people watching boxing. I love this sport and anything we can do to help it is great. The more attention that is drawn to any of the fighters, especially in a positive way, is good for the sport. And if it’s elevating my career, what the hell, let’s do it.

 

Do you ever think, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I got to this point in my career this quickly?’

It’s zero to 100 and that’s just the nature of the game. My mother said, ‘Chris, it’s just the way you said it would happen.’ It’s nothing, then boom! It’s a full-on sprint. It’s the nature of the business and I’m not surprised by it. I’ve been watching this sport for years and I’ve seen it with other fighters. I knew my time would come. I just had to stay focused and disciplined, and if you work hard good things happen. I am right where I am supposed to be.

 

How does preparing for Pacquiao differ from preparing for Ruslan Provodnikov?

Let me touch on Provodnikov’s style. He’s a lot better than people think. Every fight he has lost has been a very close fight. He really brought it and he’s a great champion. On top of being an exciting fighter, the guy is good. And to tell you the truth, the Ruslan I fought was the best Ruslan I have ever seen. They guy was cutting off the ring and his technique was very sharp and he was faster than usual. I made a mistake early and we all know how that went. I don’t want to downplay Ruslan’s power at all.

 

He’s a fantastic fighter, but in terms of his style and Manny’s, they are completely different. The preparation for each is completely different. That’s no different for me, because I’m always fighting guys with different styles. I’ve not been one of those champions that have been fed perfect guys to make me look great. I have had to fight every single style coming up on my way to get here. I wasn’t fed anyone in any point of my career.

 

I fought every style you could think of – righty, lefty, tall, short, power-puncher, fast guys, counter guys, so for me it is the norm – training for guys with different styles. Provodnikov has a totally different style than Manny Pacquiao and that’s what training camp is all about and that’s why I stay in shape year round, so I can work on strategy in camp instead of getting in shape.

 

Is your size an advantage?

It’s genetic. I’m tall for the weight class, so why would I stand in front of a man and trade bombs. I’ve got length, I’ve got reach, I’ve got speed; I’ve got footwork and defence, but that’s not what’s going to be the difference in this fight. It’s not a tall guy versus a short guy. It’s Chris Algieri versus Manny Pacquiao. It’s what I bring to the table versus what he brings to the table.

 

I think a lot of it has to do with my mental preparation and mind going into this fight as well as what we know from Manny. We know Manny is a living legend and a Hall of Famer. He’s one of the greatest fighters that have ever lived. For me, I have to go out there and be myself. I have the talent and the tools to win this fight. I just have to go out there and perform.

 

How would you describe your fighting style?

I feel like I fight an aggressive style; smart, aggressive. I would have been more aggressive in the Ruslan fight if not because of my eye early in the fight. I had to protect that eye and be even smarter than I normally would. Don’t be confused with my style just from that one fight, because I know a lot of people have only seen that one fight. I am an aggressive-style boxer and I will be in there to mix it up, but it’s going to be in a smart way.

 

I box, but I’ve never heard anyone say that I was a boring fighter or that they didn’t really like watching my style. I use a lot of the ‘sweet science’, as they say, but that sort of stuff is exciting to watch. I throw a lot of punches. I’m an active fighter. All of my fights have been exciting, even the lopsided ones. I am not concerned about taking a conscious approach to making my style more exciting. I think I go out there and fight in the manner that works best for me getting a win and it just so happens that it’s good to watch.

 

How would you compare your style to Floyd Mayweather?

I throw a lot more punches than Floyd. He’s very efficient with his punches and when he throws he lands a very high percentage, but he’s not exceptionally busy every round. I think I bring a lot of energy and combinations and punches every single round. Even when I’m not throwing, I’m moving my upper body, I’m moving my feet, I’m moving my head, I’m changing levels, bringing some of the finer elements of the sport to the ring. All those things are important and they count and they are a part of boxing. It’s kind of a lost art because it’s difficult to teach and unless you are an educated fan or a trainer or a fighter, you don’t even see those kinds of things.

 

So, whose style do you admire?

Bernard Hopkins’ style is the way. Everything he does is for a reason – little head feints, little hand movements, little shoulder rolls and gestures are all finer points of the sweet science. Before contemporary times, everyone did that kind of stuff. I have seen videos of Sugar Ray Robinson and Willie Pep, who did a million other things than just punch, to set up a perfect shot or to offset their opponents’ rhythm. Boxing is incredibly complicated. It’s not ‘Rock’em Sock’em Robots’.

 

Note: Second part of Chris Algieri interview will be posted later this week.

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