It always was a point of pride for Chris Algieri that he was able to navigate his way from a world kickboxing title to the WBO world super lightweight title he won over Ruslan Provodnikov a year ago by relying on the mixed martial arts training team that learned the ropes in boxing together with him. But after getting up from six knockdowns in a loss to Manny Pacquiao last November, Algieri knew it was time for a change.
Star Boxing matchmaker Ron Katz suggested a meeting with Florida-based trainer John David Jackson, who was a two-time world champion and has developed five world champions as a trainer, and the chemistry they found was so good that Algieri (20-1, 8 KOs) was confident he could face former champion Amir Khan (30-3, 19 KOs) on Friday night at Barclays Center without so much as a tuneup under his new trainer.
"It shows that I'm taking this sport very seriously," Algieri said Wednesday at the final news conference. "I've made some changes to the team. I've revamped things and added experience, and now we're going to go out and test it at the highest level. I'm not tiptoeing into it."
This time, Jackson will have the only voice in the corner, and he will look to his chief assistant Derek Santos for support. Keith Trimble and Tim Lane, who trained Algieri in his first 21 fights, will have background roles.
When Jackson first met Algieri back in February, he had him shadowbox four rounds to show what he had in terms of skill. "I saw a tremendous jab when he uses it, great footwork," Jackson said. "He didn't use it a lot, but he has the ability to become a very good defensive fighter because he has built-in radar. His instincts and his reflexes are great. If he was taught how to put it all together, it's there for him.
"I said, 'If you are willing to learn and listen, I believe I can make you a better fighter.' He said, 'That's what I'm here for coach.' He definitely listens."
Although Jackson is confident his knowledge will bring out more of Algieri's talents, he expressed his admiration for everyone who worked with the Greenlawn native to develop what he described as a "world-class" jab. But he told Algieri he has to snap it more from the shoulder rather than push it out at times.
As a disciple of the late Philadelphia trainer George Benton, Jackson believes he can help Algieri with his power punching. "I've worked on the right hand tremendously," Jackson said. "He throws it, but there was no conviction on it. I said, 'When you throw the punch, you've got to hurt him. That's what it's there for.'
"He's got to let his hands go. He throws a mean left hook. He throws a lot of good shots. I think he will surprise people. You're going to see a different Chris Algieri, a hungrier fighter who is more determined to do what he needs to do to win this fight."
Khan has said he believes Algieri will be playing into his hands if he tries to mix it up, but Jackson believes Algieri can win without running because he has the ability to see punches coming and simply needed to learn to make his opponent miss and be in position to fire back."What makes him so great?" Jackson said of Khan. "He's been knocked out twice. Chris has never been knocked out. He's proven he can take big punches. So you tell me, who's more capable physically?"