By Thomas Gerbasi
The notes are piling up, but Chris Algieri keeps them all. Ever since he put on the gloves as a teenage kickboxer, the Long Island junior welterweight has jotted down everything when it comes to his daily routine, from the techniques he practiced to the food he ate. It’s as big a part of his fighting career as the rounds he puts in, and he’s not about to stop now.
“I try to get an idea of what made me feel good and what makes me feel best, and also how I felt during a session,” he said. “If I felt really fit and really strong that day, I try and look back and analyze to see why. It helps me to self-analyze and self-assess how my training is going, so the next time I don’t even have to think about it. At this point, it’s almost autopilot.”
Eleven years of note taking will do that for you, and despite being on the verge of big things like an ESPN2 Friday Night Fights headlining gig against top ten-ranked Emmanuel Taylor this week, Algieri continues to look backward in order to help him move forward.
“I look back and see how far I’ve come,” said the 29-year-old. “I see mistakes that I made when I was younger and I was first coming up. In the past couple years, I’ve really been fine tuning.”
It’s as if every day is an opportunity for the New Yorker to learn more and more about himself and his craft, and he’s taken advantage of it all, whether it’s breaking down his own workouts or traveling out west to work in California and Las Vegas with more experienced fighters like Marcos Maidana and Brandon Rios. For Algieri, who was a pro kickboxer but had no amateur boxing experience, it’s necessary.
“In terms of the other fighters that are out there, even my opponent (Taylor), I’m relatively new to the sport,” he said. “So for me, I’m making up ground by just doing it harder and faster. I’m willing to do that and I’m taking those chances and going out there and seeing different looks and different styles, and it’s showing fight to fight. My style is still developing and coming together and it’s come from all the great training that I’ve seen and because I always stay in shape.”
A self-proclaimed gym rat, Algieri has approached his in the ring career the way he has life outside the ropes. 18-0 with eight knockouts, he took on the usual suspects early in his career, but by 2011, he began stepping things up, most notably turning back Bayan Jargal and Mike Arnaoutis. Now comes the fight with Taylor, a talented 17-1 up and comer who has impressed with knockout wins over Raymond Serrano and Victor Manuel Cayo since the lone loss of his career against Prenice Brewer in 2011. On paper, it’s a great fight between two hot prospects who really didn’t have to fight each other. Sure, in the 50s and 60s no one would have batted an eye at seeing a fight like this, but in this day and age in boxing, it’s the exception rather than the rule.
“It’s a shame that that’s how it’s come to be,” said Algieri. “But you still do see some top guys fighting each other. It’s just tough, and I think it’s mostly because of promotions. Cross-promotion fights are hard to come by and nobody wants to put their top prospects against each other. I think that also plays a part in it; it’s not just the fighters and managers, I think it’s also the promotions which are running the sport.”
Luckily, both Algieri and Taylor fight under the Star Boxing banner, and kudos to Joe DeGuardia and matchmaker Ron Katz for making this one happen. More importantly, give credit to Algieri and Taylor for taking the bout.
“It’s time to step up,” said Algieri. “Myself and my team, we feel we’re ready for this kind of step, and this is where we’re headed. This is going to be a springboard for the future.”
It will be if he wins, something Algieri is confident of heading into the bout at his home away from home at the Paramount Theatre in Huntington, New York, a spot where he has fought and won his last seven fights.
“I see another young hungry lion out there,” he said when asked about Maryland’s Taylor. “He’s coming to make a statement. This is a big fight for him, and he’s taking a chance with me, but stylistically it works well for me, and me and my team think this is a perfect fight.”
If Algieri fights the perfect fight, or something close to it, and wins his 19th bout without a loss on national television, it’s the kind of boost money just can’t buy. And from there, it’s not surprising that the analytical 140-pounder has plenty of detailed plans for the rest of 2014.
“In a perfect world, I do exactly what I have planned, which is to dominate on Friday, February 14, relax a little bit, cool down, and look to get back in there as soon as possible,” said Algieri. “I don’t plan on staying out of the ring for too long. I’d definitely like to see at least one more entrance into the ring before the summer, and at least three more fights after this one this year. By the end of the year, we’ll be in prime real estate for some big fights.”