An old boxing adage holds that styles make fights, but it’s the high personal stakes for welterweight Chris Algieri and budding contender Errol Spence that should make their 12-round Premier Boxing Champions on NBC main event Saturday night at Barclays Center.
Spence (19-0, 16 KOs) believes he’s one win away from a shot at IBF welterweight champion Kell Brooks. Algieri is looking for a quality win in his fourth fight at 147 pounds to get back in the title picture after losses to Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan. The Greenlawn fighter comfortably made weight Friday at 145.6 pounds compared to 146.4 for Spence.
Algieri, who will receive a purse of $325,000 to $225,000 for Spence, according to an ESPN report, went to the weigh-in expecting promoter Joe DeGuardia would divulge how they are splitting their share of the pot under the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act. According to a spokesman for Algieri, DeGuardia continued to withhold that information, which is his right until Monday, when everyone involved gets paid.
“My focus is totally 100 percent on Errol Spence,” Algieri said. “Nothing else other than this fight. I’ll deal with that (business) fight on Monday.”
DeGuardia did not respond to messages from Newsday.
Although Algieri is his first “name” opponent, Spence is a heavy 1/20 betting favorite at legal sports books while Algieri is a 9/1 underdog. “I think it could catapult my career,” Spence said of the chance to fight former WBO super lightweight champion Algieri. “He’s a good name, and he’s an ex-world champion, so, me beating him, will line me up for a world title shot.”
The heavy odds favoring former 2012 U.S. Olympian Spence reflect his demonstrated knockout power. Algieri is a boxer who has attempted to add power in two fights under new trainer John David Jackson.
Spence shrugged when asked about Algieri’s power, saying, “Oh, I don’t know. But I know I have power. He’ll find out Saturday.”
Algieri said Spence’s power numbers have been “skewed” by his poor caliber of opposition. “He’s got a lot of holes that the guys he has been with weren’t able to capitalize on,” Algieri said. “He’s technically very sound, a strong guy, but he pretty much fights everybody the same. I haven’t seen a lot of guys with any footwork, haven’t seen guys that have any speed, guys that can hurt him. He hasn’t really been in there with any different looks. When he has stepped up in class, you can see a little hesitation on his part.”
As for Spence’s southpaw stance, Algieri said trainer Jackson is a natural southpaw who has prepared him well. Algieri plans a mix of boxing and punching but said, “I want him to feel my power early. I’m not known as a power puncher, but I can hit. I want to make sure he knows it early.”