Chris Algieri owns the WBO international junior welterweight championship belt, but that isn’t enough for the Greenlawn fighter. He wants the top-rung WBO junior welterweight belt, the belt he used to own.
“I still feel like part of that belt is mine,” Algieri said last month.
That WBO world junior welterweight belt belongs to Maurice Hooker now. Algieri knew he needed to beat Tommy Coyle and look the part of a legit contender in the process Saturday at Madison Square Garden to be in line for bigger fights and at least keep his name in the conversation for a title fight.
The 35-year-old stepped into the ring on the Anthony Joshua-Andy Ruiz Jr. undercard and took some punishment. But he inflicted a lot, too. Referee Eric Dali stopped the fight on the advice of Coyle’s corner after the eighth round.
Score it a TKO for Algieri.
“My whole game plan for this camp was that on June 1, 2019, at Madison Square Garden, I, Chris Algieri, will stop Tommy Coyle,” Algieri said. “ . . . I made it tougher than it needed to be, but I got it done.”
Judge Frank Lombardi had Algieri winning seven of the eight rounds and leading 79-72, while Bernard Bruni and Guido Cavalleri had Algieri winning five and leading 77-74. Algieri looked like he had been in a fight, though. He had swelling under both eyes. But he’s still undefeated at 140 pounds and is 24-3 with nine KOs overall.
“My [good looks] will be back in a few weeks,” Algieri said. “Don’t worry about it. They knew I was coming with the jab and they countered it really well. They got with me some great overhand rights in the first few rounds. There was a lot of infighting . . .
“But I went in there and got the stoppage I wanted to make a statement. A little different than going and outboxing a guy.”
Back in June of 2014, Algieri won a split decision against Ruslan Provodnikov to take the WBO junior welterweight title. But he had to give up the belt later that year when he moved up to welterweight.
This was his third win in three tries after a layoff of about 2 1/2 years because of a knee injury and a promotional dispute. It also marked his debut in the Garden’s main arena.
His 29-year-old opponent from England, who fell to 25-5, pummeled him against the ropes early in the second round. The 5-7 Coyle landed a couple of big shots to the 5-10 Algieri’s head during that round.
Algieri withstood it all and then picked up the pace, winning the next three rounds in the eyes of the judges. The fourth was a 10-8 round after Algieri knocked Coyle down in a corner.
The sixth ended with both fighters slugging it out in a corner. Dali called for time 51 seconds into the seventh. Coyle needed a break after Algieri hit him low.
All three judges had Algieri claiming the final two rounds. Now his eyes are back on first prize.
“I would fight [Hooker] completely different,” Algieri said. “I have shown many different styles throughout my career . . . Whatever needs to be done to win a fight, I am willing to do it.”