Junior welterweight titlist Chris Algieri, who is moving up to welterweight to challenge the great Manny Pacquiao for his world title on Saturday night (9 ET, HBO PPV) at the Venetian Macao's Cotai Arena, is nothing if not confident.
"I'm where Manny used to be. Look where he came from, out of nowhere to become a boxing legend," Algieri said this week. "I've always trained like a champion. Now I've been treated like one during this promotion."
He'll continue to be treated like that if he wins. But it was not long ago when few knew who he was.
Algieri (20-0, 8 KOs) came out of nowhere in June when he survived a pair of first-round knockdowns and a badly swollen eye to win a controversial split decision and a 140-pound world title from Ruslan Provodnikov.
Going into that fight, Algieri was basically unknown. He was also a huge underdog, as he is against Pacquiao. He had been on television twice and never made more than $15,000 before making $100,000 to fight Provodnikov. He still lives in his parents' basement in Huntington, New York.
But he's a good athlete with good speed and has a few inches on Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38 KOs) in terms of height and reach. He plans to use that.
"We are going in with a smart strategy," he said of the game plan devised by trainer Tim Lane. "Timing and rhythm beats speed. This is a battle of wits and smartness. Now they tell me Manny has his killer instinct back. Well, come and try to get me. This is like a battle of high-stakes chess but with a lot of punches.
"I'm a student of the sport. I like training. Can't wait until I get into the ring. We're not worried about what Manny will be doing in the fight. He should be concerned about what we're going to be doing. How will we control this fight? Jab, range, timing and rhythm. We're very excited. Our work is done. We are ready to fight."
And what about after the fight, for which he will earn $1.675 million?
"Yes, I plan to move out of my parents house after this fight," Algieri said.