By Mariano A. Agmi; photos by Peter Frutkoff/PeterFrutkoff.com
Junior welterweight prospect Chris Algieri (15-0, 7 KOs) returns to the Paramount Theatre in his hometown of Huntington, Long Island this Saturday when he faces fellow prospect Jose “Mangu” Peralta (10-1, 6 KOs) in the co-main feature of the NBC Sports Network “Fight Night” event. This is the biggest fight to date for Algieri, an Argentinean-American who is no stranger to setting lofty goals and then rising to the occasion: The 28-year-old is a former two division ISKA kickboxing champion and holds a bachelor’s degree in healthcare science and a Master’s in Clinical Nutrition.
After mastering kickboxing and earning his degrees, the junior welterweight has set his sights on winning a world championship in the ring and following a successful boxing career, hopes to become a doctor. FightNews spoke with the charismatic fighter earlier this week about his love of boxing, his Argentine heritage, and his career aspirations.
How has training camp been going and what do you know about Jose Peralta?
Training is going great. I trained in Long Island for this fight with Keith Trimble and I’m in fantastic shape. Jose is only 11 fights into his pro career but he has a good amateur background; he’s a pressure fighter, a short guy who comes forward. We have a few things to deal with that.
Peralta appears to be a physically strong fighter. What are your keys to victory?
I have to use my height, use my range, and use my speed. I think that I’m also a strong fighter and guys don’t realize how physically strong I am because I don’t impose my size as much as I can, so I think that it will be important to impose my reach and range early, as well as my physical strength to show him that I’m not strictly a counterpuncher, but I have some power too.
Do you feel added pressure to perform being that this fight will televised on NBC?
I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for some time now. I’m my biggest critic, so I put a lot of pressure on myself and every fight is a big deal to me. The pressure is always high.
You’re 15-0. Where do you see yourself in your career?
We’re in position now. It’s time to get some national exposure and step it up. We’re ready to fight some other prospects. We’ll keep knocking them down and look for bigger names and bigger fights, keep building and moving up the ranks.
You were a kickboxing champion in two weight classes. Did you always know that you wanted to eventually become a boxer or did you consider MMA?
I knew I always wanted to be a boxer. Even as a kickboxer, I always looked up to boxers more so than athletes in any other sport. I think that boxing is the best sport in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I love kickboxing. I love my experience and I don’t regret it all, but I was always a boxing fan. There was no question when it was time to move on from my boxing career to my next combat sport that it would be boxing over MMA or another martial art.
Where does that love of boxing come from? Does it run in the family?
I’m the first boxer in my family, but I used to watch a lot of fights with my grandfather. My grandfather is from Argentina, and for him, soccer and boxing were the two most important sports. On the weekends, we’d watch ESPN on Friday nights and Tuesday Night Fights when it was on. He would tell me about past fighters and critique them on their technique and point out certain things about each guy and that really started my love for the sport.
Speaking of Argentina, the country is enjoying a great moment in the sport with guys like Sergio Martinez, Marcos Maidana, Luis Matthysse, Omar Narvaez and Carlos Abregu all winning titles and having success. Tell me about your Argentine background.
My mother was born in Argentina. She came here when she was about 13 from Cordoba, Argentina. My grandparents lived with us so I was pretty ingrained in the culture. Asado (Argentine BBQ) on the weekends is like religion to me. I understand a lot of Spanish but I don’t speak it perfectly. Actually, when I was in camp with [trainer] Robert Garcia, I was training with Marcos Maidana and I got to speak Spanish all the time. He doesn’t speak English, so that was the only way that we could communicate, and we would be in car rides together driving to the gym or about to go run, and we got to know each other. He’s a really nice guy and he’s really funny. I’m dying to fight in Argentina. I’ve talked to [promoter] Joe DeGuardia about that. I’ve traveled a lot but I haven’t had a chance to visit there yet.
Have there been any discussions about adding you to a Sergio Martinez undercard in New York City or Atlantic City so that other Argentineans and fans in general can see you?
I think that’s a great idea. I would love that. I’ve talked to Maidana about fighting on one of his cards, but it would also be great to fight on a Sergio Martinez undercard so that more people can know about my heritage.
You spent some time in California with Robert Garcia’s camp. Is that something that you’re going to continue doing?
That’s something I want to continue doing. I’ve trained with some great guys and that gym atmosphere is second to none of all of the places I’ve been. The guys there are lifers – everyone is training constantly and always in shape and they spar all the time. The level of sparring is very different. It is a positive place to be and they’re going to be churning out champions for years to come. Robert is a great coach. This camp I had a great situation at home, so I stayed in New York, but I’d love to return at some point.
I see that you have your BA in healthcare science and a Master’s in clinical nutrition. Are you planning to enroll in medical school after your boxing career is over?
That’s going to be a post-career thing. At this point, boxing has become a full time job. Medical School is going to be a full time commitment, so I’m going to have to wait for that. I got my bachelor’s degree and my master’s degree while fighting, which was difficult in its own right, but medical school is a whole other animal. I have all of my pre-requisites done and I’m taking my time and slowly studying for my MCATs (Medical College Admissions Test) and keeping my mind in it so that when it’s time to really lock down and study, I’ll be ready.
Between fights, it’s probably a good way to keep busy and move forward, right?
Absolutely – I’ve created a website called MyCompetitiveLife.com and it talks a lot about health, rehabilitation, nutrition, training, and it really brings the two worlds together. It brings together my medical brain with my athletic side, and that really keeps my mind in the right place, because I’m writing articles and putting up videos and constantly researching, and that takes up a lot of my time in between fights.
What kind of doctor do you want to be?
I’m not sure what type of doctor I want to be yet. From physicians I’ve spoken to, a lot of them say that you won’t know until you do your rotations.
Do you want to stay involved in boxing after your fighting career is over?
I would love to be involved in boxing in some way or another. I think I will be because I have such a passion for this sport and I don’t see that dissipating. So I would love to be involved in the sport when I retire in any way I can. I think it would be a great service to other fighters for me to be a ringside physician and also a former fighter myself: being able to understand who the fighters are, where they come from and the tell-tale signs of when a fight should be stopped or when a fighter should retire, or even just injuries. That would be a great transition for my career.
The main event of “Fight Night” features a battle of undefeated heavyweights as Vyacheslav “Czar” Glazkov (14-0, 10 KOs) from the Ukraine goes toe-to-toe with Philly’s Malik Scott (35-0, 12 KOs).
Co-headlining is “The Fighting Pride of Huntington, New York” Chris Algieri (14-0, 7 KOs) facing off against Jose “Mangu” Peralta (10-1, 6 KOs) from the Dominican Republic but now fighting out of Jersey City, NJ.
Several more bouts showcasing top local talent will be featured.
Tickets are available thru Star Boxing (718-823-2000), the Paramount box office (631-673-7300) and Ticketmaster (800-745-3000 or online at Ticketmaster.com).
The Paramount is located at 370 New York Ave, Huntington, NY. Doors open at 6:30p and the first bout is at 7:30p.
“Fight Night” at the Paramount is promoted by Main Events, Star Boxing and Goossen Tutor.