Chris Algieri impresses everyone except Chris Algieri
The best ones, they aren’t like you and me.
They don’t acquiesce, they don’t capitulate, they don’t go with the flow in the same manner.
Acceptance is the key to serenity, but the definition of serenity isn’t quite the same for an A-grade athlete who seeks to command a spotlight on the grandest of stages.
For Chris Algieri, his being won’t be complete, his brain won’t really be able to transition to spending goodly portions of time in a “serene” mode until he makes the leap of success he knows in his heart, his soul, all of his fibers and fluids in his vessel, he is capable of.
Until Algieri beats one of those perceived monsters, the Mayweathers, the Khans, others of that ilk, he will not be content.
Me, I have to think I’d be fairly content the day or two after doing what Algieri did on Friday night in Brooklyn. Which is to say, prove most every doubter wrong, and compete, and very nearly beat British star Amir Khan at Barclays Center and on Spike TV.
But not Algieri; I saw him an hour after he didn’t get the decision, and his face didn’t register anything but disappointment. There was not a glimmer of comprehension that maybe he did get the moral nod on Friday.
“Kid, you won,” I whispered as he started heading toward the exit, to head back to Long Island, not to soothe his deeply competitive self with mitigating feedback, but to continue to stew in the fact that he didn’t win. “I know you don’t think so, but man, that was a helluva fight. And you deserve congratulations.”
“Thanks, Mike,” Algieri said, with a face that didn’t perk up, relent at all, didn’t see another side of the equation, find that silver lining in a unanimous-decision loss. “But I lost.”
And on Saturday, still, he wasn’t in a more philosophically softer mode of thinking. Now, I sort of knew that about Algieri, that he owns a fierce pride, and a level of belief in self that seemed understandable after he upset Ruslan Provodnikov, but a bit more foreign after Manny Pacquiao knocked him to the mat six times when they clashed last November. I’m world class, I swear it, he’d tell people, and in this “what have ya done for me” society, the naysayers rolled their eyes. Yeah, mostly virtually, on Twitter, but they were not, roundly, of that mind-set.
Khan took an easy touch – that was the response in many corners when Amir announced the choice of Algieri as next. Amir is taking an easy out, a gimme gig, keep him safe and on track to that Mayweather lottery-ticket path.
Khan told us that wasn’t so, that Algieri was quality, but cynics suspected he was just selling the merit of the matchup. But basically all were convinced a few rounds in on Friday. There was no clear gap in skills on display. Algieri wasn’t shrinking, his chin wasn’t betraying him, his confidence, which can border on hubris depending on the set of eyes seeing it, wasn’t coming off as a narcissistic expression of “false self” maintenance. No, the reflexes, the coordination, the accuracy, the ring generalship – all those traits were looking on par with Khan’s. And that, to me, was grounds for celebration, or, at least, a grudging acceptance of self worth.
Me, I think by Saturday, or Sunday, I would have soothed my soul with a pep talk: Mike, you did better than 98 percent of the people thought you would. You were right there with Khan … after just 22 boxing matches, period. That’s saying something.
Ah, but those sorts, they aren’t like me. They don’t engage in the same methods of self soothing, which blunt the pointed edges of reality which dent the fragile ego. Almost winning, that’s not gonna do it for a Chris Algieri.
“I’m still super bummed,” he told me on Saturday night. “I did not feel Khan was better than me at all. You asked me before the fight if I thought he was world class. I agreed he was and said I am one of the best fighters in the world. I stick to that statement.”
I dare say there are far fewer folks disagreeing with Algieri today, as compared to on May 28. Thing is, that would cheer me up, but not so him. He’s not like you and me.
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