By Mitch Abramson
Chris Algieri has gone from a club fighter, cutting his teeth in his hometown of Huntington, LI against nondescript opponents, to someone who could be the breakout star of 2014 if things fall into place.
As previously reported on BoxingScene.com, Bob Arum of Top Rank has made a formal offer to Algieri to face Manny Pacquiao on Nov. 22 in Macao, China, giving Algieri a chance to carry on the remarkable string of good fortune for the Huntington native. Arum and Algieri’s promoter, Joe DeGuardia said they could potentially reach an agreement on terms of the deal, perhaps as soon as Wednesday or Thursday.
“We have a Pacquiao offer on the table and we are negotiating that actually as we speak,” DeGuardia said in a phone interview. “And I expect that we’re going to have a resolution within the next day or two.”
DeGuardia wouldn’t go into details on the arrangements other than to say it’s a seven-figure offer to Algieri, which he predicted before the offer arrived on Monday. The former kick-boxing champion would be rising in weight to challenge Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight belt but that’s something he would obviously do for the chance to face one of the biggest names in the sport. The bout would be shown on HBO Pay-Per-View at the Venetian Casino, where Pacquiao fought and beat Brandon Rios last year.
The timetable for further discussions on the deal is imminent: Arum expects to talk to DeGuardia again Wednesday and said that Artie Pelullo, who has options on Algieri, is traveling to Arum’s home in Los Angeles, where he is resting from knee replacement surgery, to help speed things along.
A fight with Pacquiao would be an incredible turn of events for Algieri, who’s gone from performing in club shows at the Paramount Theatre in Huntington to now the top entrant to face Pacquaio. Another fight between Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez doesn’t seem viable at this time. Another opponent who seemed to have the inside track on facing Pacquiao, Ruslan Provodnikov, lost his chance at the Pacquiao sweepstakes when he was upset by Algieri June 14 at Barclays Center. Algieri was impressive in boxing with his right eye completely shut for most of the bout to wrest away the WBO junior welterweight title.
Arum wouldn’t say if Algieri is the only fighter he’s made an offer to face Pacquiao. DeGuardia wouldn’t say, either. “But I can tell you the fight is there for Chris,” the Bronx-based promoter said.
“The fight is there for Chris. It’s tremendous, and it’s where you hope to be in the business to be in the biggest fight that’s in the industry,” DeGuardia went on. “That’s what this game is all about, so it’s fantastic and it’s a wonderful opportunity for Chris to really solidify himself and change his life.”
Arum talked up Algieri as a potential opponent for Pacquiao from a marketing point of view, praising his education and speaking ability. Algieri has a Master’s in nutrition and has an easy-going way about him when talking to the media. He also looks like an action movie star waiting to happen.
“I think if there’s one thing that’s very good is how unusual Algieri is in the sense that he’s college educated,” Arum said. “You don’t get many fighters who are college graduates and he’s very articulate and while he’s somewhat unknown, to be honest he has a lot of upside as far as marketability because once people get to know who he is they’ll be intrigued. I think it would be something completely different for the sport of boxing.”
The only downside, if you can call it that, Arum said of the match-up, is that neither Algieri nor Pacquiao like to denigrate their opponents in the run-up to their fights, leading to what could potentially be a vanilla promotional tour for the two polite boxers, though their personalities and interesting back-stories would seem to be compelling enough.
“One thing I’m going to have to do is hire someone to do some trash talking,” Arum said to laughter. “Both guys wouldn’t lower themselves to trash talking.”
Mitch Abramson covers boxing for the New York Daily News and BoxingScene.com.