Who is Chris Algieri?
The widely held perception among fans and boxing insiders alike is that he is the one-hit wonder who was lucky to eke out a split-decision upset of Ruslan Provodnikov for the WBO 140-pound title last June only to be exposed as an inexperienced boxer in his WBO welterweight title loss to Manny Pacquiao last November.
No one has studied that question more deeply than Algieri (20-1, 8 KOs) himself, and the fighter from Greenlawn is convinced Amir Khan (30-3, 19 KOs) is in for a surprise on May 29 at Barclays Center on his way to a hoped-for shot at welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. in September.
"I think I have a huge advantage when it comes to a little bit of mystery," Algieri told Newsday on Thursday in a telephone interview from his Florida camp with new trainer John David Jackson. "A lot of people only saw my last two fights, and to tell you the truth, neither one of those fights defined me.
"The Ruslan fight, I had a damaged eye in the first round. I didn't really get to show my style. The Pacquiao fight wasn't my style. These guys don't really know who's going to show up. Now that I'm working with John David Jackson, there are things he's cultivating that we think are going to be pretty surprising."
After suffering two first-round knockdowns against Provodnikov, Algieri was conscious of protecting a right eye that swelled shut by the eighth round, yet he showed the ability to jab and win enough exchanges to box his way to victory. Against Pacquiao, he was knocked down six times, including one that should have been ruled a slip, and never put punches together as he did against Provodnikov.
Algieri described it as a learning experience, and he has gone to school on his mistakes with Jackson. "I have to get back to using my jab," Algieri said. "That was a big strategic mistake to stay away from the jab because Pacquiao was so good at countering the jab."
Throughout his career, Algieri has relied on his ring smarts to analyze opponents early and react, but he faulted himself for not adjusting against Pacquiao. "I felt I was not thinking during that fight," Algieri said. "I was sticking very strictly to what we had worked on in camp. It watered down my style to the point where I was ineffective. I would rather have gone out there and been myself and been aggressive."
Khan's hand speed is comparable to that of Pacquiao, but Algieri believes the results will be far different. "If I keep the jab pumping like when I'm at my best, the combinations will flow freely," Algieri said. "I'm still being smart, but I'm definitely letting my hands go, pushing the pace. Aggression is going to be a big part of this fight."