For the past week and a half, Chris Algieri, the local boy from Huntington who made good, has shared the same air space with Manny Pacquiao, a boxing hero of truly global proportions. They bounced from Macau, China, site of their Nov. 22 WBO welterweight title fight, to Shanghai to San Francisco to Las Vegas to Los Angeles and, finally, Thursday to New York.
A total of more than 27,000 miles, grinding through news conferences, staging contests in bowling, pool, shooting basketballs and hitting baseballs and -- Algieri's favorite part -- occasionally sharing a private airplane with promoter Bob Arum and eating lobster and crab legs.
"And I mean good crab legs,'' Algieri said before Thursday's midtown news conference.
Without a doubt, Algieri's improbable split decision over Ruslan Provodnikov on June 14 in Brooklyn to earn the WBO junior welterweight title launched him into the boxing stratosphere. Just last February, Algieri still was fighting at the Paramount Theater in Huntington, where he will serve as one of three grand marshalls in Saturday's Awareness Day parade.
"It's obviously a big change, but I relish it,'' Algieri said. "I'm built for this stuff. Someone asked me if I'm having fun. How could I not be having fun? I'm a world champion, traveling the world, and I get to meet tons of people.''
Algieri truly is living the dream. But the speed with which it has come to fruition could be dizzying.
The vastly more experienced Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38 KOs) was a two-time world champ by the time Algieri (20-0, 8 KOs) graduated in 2002 from St. Anthony's High, where he was a wrestler. By the time Algieri graduated from Stony Brook in 2007 with a degree in health sciences, he had been a world kickboxing champ, but Pacquiao was collecting world titles and becoming a pay-per-view star.
Who could have predicted when this year began that Algieri would be standing right where he is now, looking eye-to-eye with Pacquiao on the news conference stage while the photographers fire away?
"The first time I met him, I looked him in his eye at the press conference, and I saw that he still has fire in his eyes,'' Algieri said. "He's not the retired, half-in-the-grave guy that a lot of people are trying to say he is. He's still got it, and he's going to bring it. There's no doubt in my mind.''
Did all that time traveling the world with Pacquiao teach Algieri any valuable lessons about his legendary opponent?
"I was pretty much in high school watching his fights,'' Algieri said. "So, to be around him and see him, now he's flesh and blood. He's got two hands. He's got two feet. He's got a head. That's helped quite a bit in terms of helping me grasp everything.''
It gets very real Nov. 22.