by David P. Greisman
Chris Algieri will be the most accomplished opponent that amateur standout and rising pro contender Errol Spence has faced yet in the paid ranks. The same can’t be said for Spence when it comes to Algieri’s class of opposition, given that Algieri once shared the ring with Manny Pacquiao.
Nevertheless, Algieri’s promoter acknowledges the fact that his fighter won’t be in easy.
“He’s fighting a tough guy in Errol Spence. It’s a tough opponent. When you’re at that level, all the guys you’re going to fight are tough,” said Joe DeGuardia of Star Boxing. “You’re talking about Manny Pacquiao, Ruslan Provodnikov, Amir Khan, Erick Bone in the last fight. These are all tough fights. And when you reach a certain level, that’s what you’re looking for, because you want to, No. 1, make money, No. 2, stay in the spotlight.”
Spence vs. Algieri will headline a card April 16 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, airing live on NBC. That platform could be incredibly important for Algieri, according to DeGuardia.
“Here you have an individual who has a medical background. He’s got degrees — a college degree, a master’s degree. And he speaks very well. Now put him on NBC. Let the whole country see him on free television,” he said. “It’s a big thing for him from a fight perspective, but also outside the ring for things he can do in his future. So it’s a great opportunity for him in that regard. And when all is said and done, the only way you can be a main event on NBC is to fight somebody like Spence.”
Algieri is 21-2 with 8 KOs. He won a world title at junior welterweight in June 2014, edging Provodnikov by split decision in a very tough battle. After that came a drubbing against Manny Pacquiao, then a decision loss to Khan last May in a bout where Algieri gave Khan some trouble. Algieri bounced back from those defeats by outpointing Bone this past December.
Spence, who fought in the 2012 Olympics, is now 19-0 with 16 KOs. Last year he scored technical knockouts over Samuel Vargas, Phil Lo Greco, Chris van Heerden and Alejandro Barrera.
“Errol Spence is a very, very experienced amateur. He’s got a great pedigree. He’s got good hand speed, good power. He’s a good fighter,” DeGuardia said. “By the flip side, I think Chris is the same thing. Chris is probably an underrated fighter. He can surprise him. He also has one thing under his belt that he hasn’t had — that’s experience. Now he’s got real experience. He’s been there. That’s a key factor.”
Algieri also has trainer John David Jackson in his corner and has been working on adding more elements to his arsenal, including being able to transition between boxing and brawling. This will be his third fight with Jackson.
“John’s done a great job. Chris has done a great job learning with him,” DeGuardia said. “And Chris really learned the whole boxing business in the pros. He didn’t have an amateur background. Kickboxing helped, but he’s one of the few guys that have been able to make the transition from kickboxing to boxing. He certainly now has that real boxing experience under his belt.
“You talk about going 12 rounds with Manny Pacquiao, 12 rounds with Ruslan Provodnikov after getting dropped twice in the first round, going with Amir Khan in that kind of fight, the Bone just now, another 10 rounds. That’s real experience that he’s got under his belt. That’s one thing Spence doesn’t have — in the pros. But Spence is a phenomenal amateur. And typically when you have a great amateur background, usually it carries over to the pros.”
Pick up a copy of David’s book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide. Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]