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Algieri delays med school for boxing career

If Manny Pacquiao can become a congressman and Oscar de la Hoya can earn a nomination for a Grammy, why can't Chris Algieri become a doctor?

Algieri, a junior welterweight from Huntington, is soft-spoken and modest. He actually looks more like a doctor than a fighter. But don't let that fool you. Before he embarked on a his pro boxing career, he was a world kickboxing champion.

"When I was a kid, I used to watch the fights with my grandfather all the time," said Algieri. "I always remember how he spoke about these fighters and how great he made them seem."

And while his grandfather would regale him with tales of all the great fighters, he would end each story by saying, "but don't do this, you should become a doctor."

As a kid, Algieri was more interested in fighting than studying, but as he progressed in school, many of his teachers advised him that a career in medicine seemed like a natural fit. The St. Anthony's grad has a bachelor's degree in health care science from Stony Brook, a master's in clinical nutrition from New York Tech and he's taking pre-med classes at Touro.

But that's where it ends, for now. Algieri says that he cannot focus on fighting and med school at the same time, so school will wait.

"Chris has all the makings of a kid that boxing fans are drawn to," said his promoter Joe DeGuardia. "He's good looking, he's intelligent, he going to be a doctor and, frankly, he's a very good fighter."

Algieri, 11-0, get his biggest test to date when he faces Bayan Jargal in the very first pro boxing card at the Paramount Theatre in Huntington on Saturday.

"I'm really excited to fight the first fight at the Paramount," said Algieri. "It's right in my hometown. It will be really cool to fight there."

Added DeGuardia: "It's a beautiful venue. Hopefully we've found the next hot boxing spot on Long Island. And we've got  a great main event to open it up."

This is a step up in competition for Algieri. Jargal reached the quarterfinals of the 2004 World Championships and, as a pro, lost tough fights to Breidis Prescott and Steve Upsher Chambers. If he passes this test in the ring, the classroom tests will have to wait a bit longer.   

"There is a perception that fighters aren't smart," said Algieri. "There are a lot negative connotations. But that's not always the case. There are a lot of guys out there who are educated and have a lot going on beyond the sport."

Long Island's Cletus Seldin, Richie Neves and Jacques Louis are also on the card.

New York Sports