Chris Algieri brought it Friday night on “Premier Boxing Champions” on Spike, giving Amir Khan more than anyone thought he might be able to give. It wasn’t enough for Algieri to win the decision. It might’ve been enough to cost Khan, who aspires to a Mayweather showdown, a lot of money.
Algieri had no chance of out-quicking or out-boxing Khan, so he decided to try and force Khan into the kind of brawl that has given him trouble before. Algieri did it despite no proven punching power at 147 pounds, and no track record of out-brawling opponents. It was a surprising showing that had Khan wobbled at the end of the 1st round.
Even with bruising around his eyes and with less evidence of full-fight conditioning, Algieri brought it all 12 rounds. And Khan had to dig deeper than anyone expected to hold off Algieri. They traded rounds for much of the fight, with Khan better late than early. It speaks well of Algieri, trainer John David Jackson and their collective brains that they made a fight of it with so many disadvantages. It speaks ill of Khan that he barely squeaked out a win against this caliber of opponent.
It ended up a surprisingly good fight, one that Khan won, appropriately, by 115-113 and 117-111 twice. Whatever Algieri’s intelligent approach brought Friday, it certainly did no favors for Khan that he didn’t easily outclass Algieri.
The undercard delivered one of the better fights of the year, which says more about the options in 2015 than how good the fight was, although it was, indeed, good. Javier Fortuna cleanly decisioned Bryan Vasquez at 130 pounds in what was a slugfest to start and that slowed down as the night progressed.
Fortuna and Vasquez both showed the marks on their faces of men who had been in a brawl. Fortuna won with a simple formula: Vasquez would come forward and slug for two minutes, just barely winning exchanges, and Fortuna would turn it on in the final minute of every round. It was enough to steal rounds that were close, and Fortuna was just versatile enough when the formula diverged to still win or stay close in most rounds.
Fortuna-Yuriorkis Gamboa is a helluva nice fight, if it can happen. Please, please let it happen.