When Chris Algieri embarked on his comeback to boxing, there were little things he had to be sure that he was ready to face again. It wasn’t so much the fighting, but that moment when they called his name to enter the ring. Or walking through the tunnel into the crowd. Or getting that first look across the ring at his opponent.
“A lot of the intangibles, a lot of the things that maybe outsiders don’t even realize that fighters go through,” said Algieri. “Not having done that for two and a half years, that left some doubt in mind.”
The doubt was lifted in November when Algieri returned with a 10-round decision win over Angel Hernandez at the Paramount. That victory has led Algieri to his next stop at the Garden.
Algieri, 34, from Greenlawn, makes his second comeback fight Friday night against Danny Gonzalez, 29, of Woodhaven, in a 10-round junior welterweight fight. The main event features Demetrius Andrade defending his WBO middleweight title against Artur Akavov at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. The card will be broadcast on the streaming service DAZN, starting at 6 p.m.
“Fighting at Madison Square Garden, if you talk to any boxer, any fighter, that’s a big deal, that means something,” said Algieri. “I am getting chills even just talking about it right now. It’s unlike any other place in the world.”
After winning the WBO junior welterweight title in 2014, Algieri (22-3) moved up in weight and lost three of his next four bouts. The opposition — Manny Pacquiao, Amir Khan and Errol Spence Jr. — were among the toughest welterweights in the world. But for his comeback, Algieri has decided to move back down to junior welterweight (140 pounds).
“This is my first fight at 140 flat in a couple of years,” said Algieri. “Honestly, this has been one of the easiest weight-making experiences I’ve had so far. I haven’t made it yet but we are right there. In terms of my current physique, I feel like I am in phenomenal shape, maybe the best of my career. And I am healthy.”
In Gonzalez, Algieri will face a familiar foe. They have sparred in the same camp on numerous occasions.
"Sometimes you look and say wow, two fighters from the same camp fighting each other,” said Joe DeGuardia, president of Star Boxing, which has promoted both fighters. “But this business is about opportunities, and both of them recognize the opportunity they have in front of them Friday night. For Danny it's an opportunity to change his life and Chris wants his WBO title back."
Gonzalez (17-1-1) comes into the fight having won three straight bouts.
“Chris Algieri is a former world champion and this is a fight of a lifetime,” he said at the card’s final press conference on Wednesday. “I'm really excited to be part of this card.”
Algieri is expecting Gonzalez to be at his best.
“This is his ‘Rocky’ moment, he’s going to be the best version of himself,” said Algieri. “I have to go out there, use my skills and show that there are levels to this and I am on a different level.”
Seven for Serrano? Brooklyn’s Amanda Serrano will attempt to win a world title in her seventh weight division on Friday when she fights Eva Voraberger for the vacant WBO super flyweight title. Serrano (35-1-1) captured her sixth boxing title last year and has been splitting time between boxing and MMA.
With Yeong-ung Yang