Chris Algieri celebrates defeating Erick Bone after their welterweight bout on Dec. 5, 2015 in Brooklyn.

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Block: Chris Algieri On Comeback Trail After Long Layoff

Long Island Native Faces Danny Gonzalez Friday At MSG

Benjamin Block
January 17, 2019 - 1:30 pm

Chris Algieri has never fit the stereotypical mold of a boxer. His coming-up story and background oppose that of most fighters. He isn’t undereducated. He didn’t inherit remarkably poor circumstances. Boxing was not, and is not, his only way out.

Algieri has never fought because he had to. He simply loves the sweet science.

Recalling an exchange he had in 2011 with lauded boxing trainer Robert Garcia, during a time he had been training in Garcia’s gym in Oxnard, California, Algieri finds joy in that his story both shocks and commands respect from his peers.

“He (Garcia) found out I had a master's degree. He was like, ‘What the f--- are you doing boxing?’ He goes, ‘Man, Chris Algieri, he must love the sport!’ And he’s right. I didn’t need to. I never needed to, but I love the sport.”

Algieri holds a bachelor’s degree in health science from Stony Brook University and a master’s degree in clinical nutrition from the New York Institute of Technology, both of which aided him when he was forced into a layoff that began in the spring of 2016.

Errol Spence Jr.’s fifth-round knockout of Algieri in April of that year didn’t just leave the mark of a third professional loss, it knocked Algieri clear out of boxing -- in the prime of his career -- for 2½ years. 

“I had a knee injury leading up to that fight, didn’t think it was going to be a big deal on fight night, but it is what it is,” recalled Algieri.

Revealing that he underwent knee surgery three days after the Spence fight, Algieri said that rehabbing the knee was only a minor setback and that it was not the main factor behind his 30-month respite from the ring.

“I was having a lot of out-of-the-ring issues and contractual problems with my current promotion and (former) management at that time, so there was that, which actually is the main reason I stayed out as long as I did,” Algieri clarified.

Prefacing how draining -- mostly financially -- his legal entanglements were, Algieri defended his inactivity, saying, “I never wanted the layoff” and “it really wasn’t by choice.” 

Without referencing his former manager by name (Humberto Romero), Algieri was being sued by Romero, who had cited a breach of contract, alleging that Algieri owed him $1 million.

Paralleling that dispute was another legal battle Algieri was in with his promoter, Star Boxing’s Joe DeGuardia. Their dispute had to do with a 50-50 split that he and DeGuardia had been sharing on all of the purses of Algieri’s fights.

Algieri actually stayed with DeGuardia and has confirmed that he’s signed a new promotional contract with him -- this time around he expects to receive a higher cut then 50 percent. However, Algieri is no longer with Romero, having signed with Keith Connolly, who also manages Algieri’s friend and current IBF middleweight champion, Danny Jacobs.

“I feel a lot fresher,” Algieri, laughing, remarked about what kind of shape he’s in now, both mentally and physically.

The 34-year-old is a weaver of positivity, has thought-provoking opinions often highlighted by a sharp wit, speaks with a focused quickness and has chosen to view his long layoff as an opportunity and not a hindrance.

“I’m just smarter now,” Agieri added, alluding to how beneficial it was for him to join Jacobs’ team as a nutritionist during his legally driven hiatus.

“You learn different things in those camps," Algieri said. "You see how guys do it for themselves, what works for them, what doesn’t. And I’ve been able to sort of pick and choose from that and really fine-tune my focus for who I am as a fighter and how I prepare."

Now the only thing Algieri is cooking up, besides an inordinate amount of avocados and protein shakes, is a plan of attack that involves ascending to the top of the super lightweight division.

Reiterating that he had been out of the ring “too long,” Agieri was very encouraged with his first comeback performance -- a unanimous decision win over Angel Hernandez on Nov. 30 at The Paramount in his hometown of Huntington, Long Island.

Hernandez (14-12-2, 9 KOs ) is a journeyman fighter who likely was selected because he didn’t pose a big threat, but as Algieri (22-3, 8 KOs) explained, that first fight back after so much time away had more to do with intangibles than it did with anything else.

“Not competing for 2½ years, there are certain parts of the fight that the outsiders never see,” Algieri said, referring to the prefight warm-up, walking out through the tunnel, hearing his name called and staring across the ring into the eyes of his opponent.

“For me to go through those steps was very important,” he added.

Now that he’s overcome what he called “hometown pressures” and put that first fight behind him, Algieri is excited to punctuate his comeback in front of a wider audience Friday night at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.

He’ll face dangerous upstart Danny Gonzalez (17-1-1, 7 KOs) in a real test with stronger implications, yet having sparred with Gonzalez in the past, Algieri’s confidence is high.

“This is his world title fight, so we just got to be prepared for it,” he said. Respectfully adding, “I’m just on a different level.”

A self-described boxing tactician more excitable by subtle shoulder rolls, head movement and hand position than he is by knockouts, Algieri believes it’s his mental strength that distinguishes him from other fighters.

“There is nothing I’m doing in the ring that isn’t thought out and for a reason,” said the one-time WBO junior welterweight champion. 

“Fastest chess game in the world, except you’re getting punched in the face,” Algieri quipped.

Like every other boxer fighting today, Algieri wants to win. Yet, unlike every boxer fighting, he wants to do so by exuding a ballet-like beauty along with a war-like mentality.

“That’s why I walk out to ‘Don’t Sweat the Technique’ because I’m going out there and showing all my skills.”