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For Chris Algieri, it's all about determination

Long Island's Chris Algieri gives a thumbs up

Long Island's Chris Algieri gives a thumbs up during a promotional event in New York on Sept. 4, 2014. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

MACAU - For a week leading up to his improbable quest to upset Manny Pacquiao for the WBO welterweight title Saturday night in Macau, Greenlawn's Chris Algieri and a team members issued one bold proclamation after another.

Algieri predicted he would "control'' Pacquiao, co-trainer Tim Lane said Pacquiao would get stopped, and co-trainer Keith Trimble said Algieri might make it look easy.

"They're very cocky people,'' Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach said, "and I don't like that.''

When it came time to step on the scale Saturday morning Macau Time at the contracted catch weight of 144 pounds, 3 below the welterweight limit, Algieri made one more bold gesture, tweeting out a picture of the breakfast he was eating before weighing in, as if to say, he had everything on point and under control. But in this case, Algieri was embarrassed when he weighed 144.2 pounds after stripping down completely.

It was a minor annoyance that he was 3.2 ounces over the weight and easily corrected 40 minutes later when he weighed 143.6 after a bathroom break. But it also was just the ammunition Roach needed to suggest maybe Algieri doesn't know it all after all.

"A health nutrition expert? Ha,'' laughed Roach.

That crack alluded to the fact that much has been made of Algieri's earning a degree in health sciences at Stony Brook and a masters in clinical nutrition at NYIT. Until recently, Algieri worked as a clinical nutritionist and fitness trainer in addition to his boxing, and he always has taken an exacting approach to his own superb conditioning.

Turns out the perfectionist in Algieri got the best of him.

"He wanted to come in right at 144, not under,'' publicist Kevin Rooney said. "He checked his weight in his room. He was confident he'd be right on. It's a little bit of a misjudgment.''

After all the big talk, the slip-up made it fair to wonder what else Algieri (20-0, 8 KOs) might have misjudged in proclaiming so loudly his ability to defeat the vastly more experienced Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38 KOs). Naturally, he downplayed it as a minor snafu.

"It's part of the sport,'' Algieri said. "I'd rather be well fed and feel good than be really 'sucked out' to make it. Something like this is nothing . . . I had a full breakfast. I had oatmeal, eggs, coffee. I eat. I'd rather eat and feel good than starve myself and make the weight.''

Algieri and his team members scoffed at a comment by Pacquiao that Algieri might be dehydrated.

"If I was him, I'd be wishing on some stuff, too,'' co-trainer Lane said. "Chris looked like Superman to me.''

Still, Roach took comfort in scoring psychological points against Algieri for the second time in a week. Earlier, Roach punctured Algieri's claim that he was undefeated in his kickboxing career. Technically, it was true that he never lost a sanctioned bout, but Roach directed folks to a YouTube video of Algieri getting knocked out by Scott Mukkadam in a 2006 World Combat League bout that was unsanctioned.

"There was a crowd,'' Roach said. "There were judges. He got knocked out. He's not undefeated. He's lying.''

You could almost see Roach licking his index finger before marking down a point in the win column for himself. But maybe Roach saw something else in that video that gave him pause, something that told him Pacquiao might have a real fight on his hands from the ex-kickboxer.

In the video, Algieri demonstrates his taste for battle by slugging it out with Mukkadam and dropping him once. But he gets caught by a right uppercut that didn't put him out cold but left him in a dazed heap and unable to continue. The interesting part is the look on Algieri's face after regaining his senses, a look of frustration with himself for making a mistake and determination to do something about it.

"A few days after that fight, my son said, 'Dad, I'm going to knock him out,' '' Dominick Algieri said. "He made that decision while he was down on one knee in the ring.''

Algieri never did knock Mukkadam out, but he did the next-best thing.

"Chris fought him for the ISKA title,'' said Trimble, who set up the last fight of Algieri's kickboxing career for the most prestigious title in the sport. "Chris wanted to win the biggest title against the guy that defeated him in that World Combat League.

"It was a unanimous decision. Chris destroyed Scott Mukkadam. He didn't stop him, but he beat the hell out of him for 10 rounds.''

It's that sort of determination and discipline that allowed Algieri to rise above all the detractors who said a club fighter with a kickboxing background never could make it at the highest level in boxing. It's that sort of toughness that allowed Algieri to survive two first-round knockdowns and a right eye that was swollen shut for the final five rounds when he scored a split decision over Ruslan Provodnikov to win the WBO light welterweight title in June.

So, while Algieri might rub Roach and others the wrong way with a degree of confidence that can seem over the top, his faith in himself to achieve his goals is one of his greatest assets.

"Chris wants to go the distance,'' his father said. "He wants to get as high as he can, he wants to get to the top.''

He made it all the way to Macau in a ring with Manny Pacquiao and a chance to do just that.

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