Chris Algieri, a junior welterweight prospect, isn’t like most professional boxers.
Most professional boxers have had at least a few amateur fights. Most professional boxers don’t have college degrees, let alone a master's. Most boxers see the sport as a way out of extreme poverty.
In a sport where the top guys usually have hundreds of amateur fights before they ever turn pro, can a guy with none become a world champion?
Algieri believes he can.
“I love the sport,” Algieri said. “I am very passionate about it; I don’t have to box. I box because I want to and I enjoy it.
"My passion is for the sport of boxing. It’s not to feed my family or get out of a certain situation. I am not chasing money or anything like that. I am chasing a dream in a sport that I love, and that’s a pretty powerful motivator.”
To say that Algieri had no boxing experience before turning pro would be a little misleading; he just didn’t learn to box in the traditional sense.
Algieri is a former WKA 154 and ISKA 147 world champion kickboxer. WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko was also an ISKA champion before he took up boxing.
In addition to his experience as a professional kickboxer, Algieri was also a highly accomplished wrestler in high school.
With that kind of background and the soaring popularity of the UFC today, one would think that a career in MMA would have been the next logical step.
“I grew up watching boxing, I didn’t grow up watching MMA,” Algieri said. ”When I was younger I wanted to be a boxer. I wanted to be a champion.”
So far it appears that he made the right choice. Although he has been learning on the job, the Long Island fighter sports a 15-0 record, with seven of those wins coming by knockout. That’s not too bad for a guy who didn’t have his first boxing match until he was 24.
Algieri will look to keep his undefeated record intact this Saturday when he takes on Jose Peralta Alejo (10-1, 6 KOs) in the main event on NBC Sports Network's Fight Night.
Michael Walters is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.