Chris Algieri scoffs at the notion that he's an "overnight sensation," knowing the years of work and training that went into his recent upset of Ruslan Provodnikov for the WBO junior welterweight title. But in terms of pro boxing experience, Algieri, even at the age of 30, qualifies as a phenom to be winning a world title and a shot at WBO welterweight champ Manny Pacquiao after just 20 pro fights.
"I did the same thing in kickboxing," Algieri said during an interview session Friday night at the Paramount Theatre, his old stamping grounds in Huntington. "By my fourth or fifth pro kickboxing fight, I won a world title."
The fact that Algieri is signed to meet Pacquiao on Nov. 22 in Macau, China, is not a shock in the sense that he always believed he was capable.
"It's surreal because I've been thinking about it for so long and visualizing this moment, and now it's here," Algieri explained. "So I get to experience it for the 1,001st time. It's definitely exciting."
Reaction to the matchup largely has been negative because of the vast difference in boxing experience between Algieri (20-0, eight KOs) and Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38 KOs), whose last opponent with less experience than Algieri was one Nedal Hussein in a super bantamweight fight way back on Oct. 14, 2000 when Pacquiao was only 21 years old.
Algieri remains undeterred. The popular perception before his split-decision over the powerful Provodnikov was that Algieri would get run over.
"I said before the Ruslan fight that he's never fought someone like me -- someone who's long, tall, strong and athletic with good boxing skills," Algieri said. "Neither has Manny.
"Manny has a lot of fights and a lot of experience, but the string of guys he's fought over the last five, six, seven, eight years are all the same kind of guys. I do believe my style is a problem for him. And he'll be 36 [in December]. It's tough to learn a new style or to deal with something you're not accustomed to, which I wholeheartedly will bring to the table."
Although Algieri is moving up in weight class, at 5-10 and with a 72-inch reach, he will be the second biggest opponent Pacquiao ever has fought. Only Antonio Margarito (5-11, 73-inch reach), who lost a unanimous decision on Nov. 13, 2010, was bigger.
"Margarito was a large guy, but not an athletic guy," Algieri said. "Not a guy who's going to be moving, pushing, pulling, using his jab, reaching. He's a straightforward slugger there to be hit. Manny kills those guys.
"Guys who move, guys who have angles, guys who are stylish boxers, he has trouble with. I don't think there are a lot of guys who do it better than me in the world right now."
Before fighting Provodnikov, Algieri expressed similar confidence in his ability to execute a winning game plan. After suffering two first-round knockdowns, one when he took a knee to clear his head, Algieri outpunched Provodnikov by a significant margin. As Algieri predicted, he was the stronger fighter at the end.
It would be a mistake to dismiss Algieri's chances of defeating Pacquiao, who lost a split decision to Timothy Bradley and then was knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez two years ago before coming back to win his past two fights, including a Bradley rematch in April.
Asked if those two losses are an indication of Pacquiao's age, Algieri said: "I don't know if it's so much the age but more the weight classes. At 126 pounds or 122 pounds, he was just non-stop. He was just shot out of a cannon. He's not like that anymore.
"I don't think he can be like that at 147 pounds. It's a different style and a different kind of Manny."
It really doesn't matter if everyone beyond Algieri's immediate family believes he's in way over his head against Pacquiao. One person is sure he can win.
Said Algieri: "I wouldn't take a fight I don't think I can win."