When the time comes to sell little-known Chris Algieri's improbable challenge to WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum and HBO, which will produce the pay-per-view telecast on Nov. 22, won't have to ask Algieri twice if he's ready for his close-up.
The Huntington boxer, who earned a shot at Pacquiao with his surprise split-decision victory over Ruslan Provodnikov for the WBO junior welterweight title, said Friday night that he's not only prepared to tell his story but is ready to "carry this promotion" if called upon.
Three days after agreeing to terms, Algieri and his local promoter, Joe DeGuardia, met with New York-area reporters before an ESPN Friday Night Fights card at the Paramount Theatre in Huntington.
"A few months ago on Valentine's Night, we were upstairs fighting on ESPN," DeGuardia said of Algieri's win over Emanuel Taylor. "A few months later, he beat Provodnikov on HBO, and now he's fighting the most recognizable fighter in the world in Manny Pacquiao."
It's a stunning turn of events, but it's nothing like the whirlwind of worldwide media attention Algieri (20-0, eight KOs) is about to experience with Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38 KOs). On Monday, Algieri and DeGuardia have a meeting scheduled with the marketing folks at HBO.
In Algieri, they not only get a telegenic fitness and nutrition expert but also a glib college graduate with a bachelor's degree from Stony Brook and a masters from NYIT. "It's happened fast, but it's not something I can't wrap my head around," Algieri said.
When news that the fight had been made broke, it was greeted with widespread skepticism. But Algieri insisted the reaction to his matchup against the hard-hitting Provodnikov was worse, and he believes he can sell himself as a credible opponent during a promotional tour expected to begin near the end of August in Macao, China, site of the bout, and wind through Asia before stops in America after Labor Day.
"By the time the fight goes off, there will be a lot of interest," Algieri said.
DeGuardia jumped in to say his fighter will prove more marketable in the long run than Provodnikov, who wouldhave faced Pacquiao if he had beaten Algieri. "We're talking a homegrown American from the hottest market in the country -- New York," DeGuardia said. "Chris will be the attraction."In fact, once the promotional tour ends and Pacquiao heads home to the Philippines to train, Algieri figures to carry the brunt of the promotional duties in America. He's up for the challenge.
"I can carry this promotion," Algieri said. "I can sell a fight. I'm confident we can do it."
Thinking of all the times he was the headliner at the Paramount, Algieri said, "As much as I love this place, I always wanted bigger exposure."
The stage is much bigger now, the way the South Pacific is bigger than Lake Ronkonkoma. Time for Algieri to show he can swim with the big fish.