Algieri headlines latest Barclays Center boxing card
Former Champ to take on Spence Jr. in April 16 Main Event
Chris Algieri built his reputation from the ground up, right here in Downtown Brooklyn.
The 32-year-old Long Island native arrived at Barclays Center for the biggest fight of his career on the night of June 14, 2014 with little in the way of fanfare or acknowledgement as a serious contender for WBO welterweight champion Ruslan Provodnikov’s title.
Those who thought the then-undefeated yet unheralded Algieri was in the main event that evening simply to serve as fodder for Provodnikov’s growing legend as a budding knockout artist were vindicated early and stunned at the final result.
Algieri kissed the canvas twice in the opening round, his right eye swollen shut and seeping blood among other fluids.
The aspiring doctor/nutritionist, with a bachelor’s degree from Stony Brook and a master’s from NYIT, appeared ready to call it an early night in order to receive some much-needed medical attention.
Instead, he became a Barclays Center legend as well as a newly minted world champion, rallying for an unfathomable 12-round split-decision upset of Provodnikov in what most still view as the most compelling headliner at the state-of-the-art arena since it began hosting big-time boxing back in 2012.
Algieri’s stunning triumph that night catapulted him into a higher stratosphere of opponents.
He was knocked down six times by future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao five months later in Macau, rising from the canvas each time to receive more punishment before losing a unanimous decision to arguably the second best fighter in the world over the past 20 years.
Though he yielded his title that night, Algieri continued to display a champion’s heart, going toe-to-toe with highly touted Amir Khan here at Barclays last May before losing what many viewed as a controversial split decision.
He bounced back quickly following his first two career defeats, scoring a 10-round unanimous decision victory at Barclays on Dec. 5, and is now in line to headline the latest Downtown boxing card on April 16, when he will take on up-and-coming 26-year-old southpaw Errol Spence Jr. (19-0, 16 KOs).
“It’s an honor to be back at Barclays,” Algieri said during a promotional media teleconference earlier this week. “I’m looking forward to putting on another great performance.
“I had some of my best performances there at Barclays Center,” he added. “I believe April 16 will be just another one of those and training is going fantastic so far. I’m actually getting more and more excited as we get closer to fight night, which is generally the case during training camp as game plans come together and fitness levels reach optimal. So again, thank you all and looking forward to April 16.”
Spence, 26, whom many tout as the next big thing in the squared circle, is eager to display his skills to a broader audience, as the fight will be televised live on NBC as part of its Premier Boxing Champions series.
“Well, it’s always something to prove,” he admitted. “You’ve always got to prove yourself you know. I do think I’m one of the top talents of all the young guys. But I’ve I got to prove myself on April 16. Everybody wants to see what I’ve got.
“They’ve got a lot of questions that aren’t answered. And they want to see who will answer those questions. So April 16, I’ve got to prove myself. That’s my stepping stone. So I’m ready for it.”
Ready or not, Spence will be stepping into the ring with a fighter who has never been stopped by an opponent before the final bell.
“I’m training for a 12 round fight,” he deftly answered when asked if he could saddle Algieri with his first career knockout defeat. “I’m not trying for a knock out or hoping to get a stoppage. I mean, it’s great if I do stop them, but I’m training for a 12-round fight.”
Algieri, who is currently living and training out of Boca Raton, Florida, was equally respectful, if not effusive, in his praise of Spence.
“Listen, there’s no question the guy is good,” he noted. “At this stage of the game, everybody you are going to fight is going to be good. You know, the kid wouldn’t be here if he wasn’t a damn good fighter.
“A lot of people are looking to see how he’s going to perform with a guy like me. And, it’s a very difficult task to go from prospect to contender.”
Staten Island native and longtime Barclays boxing alum Marcus Browne will take on the biggest challenge of his career April 16, when he meets fellow unbeaten “Hot Rod” Kalajdzic in one of the evening’s co-features.
Browne, a former U.S. Olympian, is blazing his way through the light-heavyweight division with 17 consecutive victories, including an arena-record 10 wins at Barclays Center.
“Yes. I’m happy to fight at the Barclays. I’m ready,” said Browne. “This is another step on the road to becoming a world champion and everyone wants to make it seem like he’s the best fighter I’ve faced. I will say, come the 16th, we’ll see.”
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by DiBella Entertainment in association with Star Boxing and sponsored by Corona, start at $25, and they can be purchased online at ticketmaster.com, barclayscenter.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000.
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