By Jake Donovan
Chris Algieri was coming off of back-to-back losses and didn't exactly set the world afire in his close points win over Erick Bone last December in Brooklyn, New York. Yet the articulate and charismatic Long Island product remained in high demand.
Enough is still thought of the former 140 lb. titlist to where he's regarded as the toughest test to date for rising welterweight contender Errol Spence. The proof will come in their upcoming clash, which airs on NBC live in primetime on April 16 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
A lesser fighter would've continued the comeback route, but Algieri (21-2, 8KOs) has never concerned himself with traveling the path of least resistance.
"I've never picked a fighter," Algieri insisted during Wednesday's press conference in New York City to formally announce the event. "That's not my job. My job is to be prepared and I will be prepared on April 16."
The fighting pride of Huntington (Long Island), New York proved his worth in a 12-round title-winning effort over Ruslan Provodnikov in this very venue less than two years ago. However disputed was the final verdict, there was no questioning Algieri's fighting heart, rising from two opening round knockdowns to claim a split decision win.
A perceived safe pick would have been accepted for his first title defense. Instead, he moved up in weight to take on one of the game's all-time best in Manny Pacquiao, though falling miserably short in their Nov. '14 welterweight title fight.
Further evidence of his willingness to take on all comers was found in last May's clash with fellow former 140 lb. titlist Amir Khan. Algieri came up just short, but looked like a changed boxer in his first fight under new trainer John David Jackson. His performance on that night as well as his win over Bone - both of which were staged at Barclays - were enough to convince his team to target a Top 10 fighter for his next fight.
With that comes a shot at one of the hottest young boxers today in Spence (19-0, 16KOs), a 2012 U.S. Olympian and now an unbeaten welterweight contender.
The 2016 campaign for Spence is intended to include a shot at reigning welterweight titlist Kell Brook later this year, assuming that both continue to win. Anxious to prove his worth on the title stage, the 26-year old Texan sought a tough challenge, which proved to be a daunting task until Algieri stepped up to accept the assignment.
"I want to thank Chris Algieri for having the balls to accept this fight," Spence noted in complimenting his opponent.
The April 16 card - which is supported by a cruiserweight title fight between recently crowned Krzysztof Glowacki and former champ Steve Cunningham - marks Algieri's fourth appearance at Barclays within his last five starts and his 7th overall fight in Brooklyn. All but one pro fight - the loss to Pacquiao - in his career has taken place in New York.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox