From food to friendship, Chris Algieri plays a key role in Daniel Jacobs' camp
The former champ was hired as a nutritionist ahead of Saturday's bout with Gennady Golovkin
If you’ve kept a close eye on the members Daniel Jacobs’ team during the buildup to Saturday’s showdown with unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, you may have noticed some new faces.
Jacobs (32-1, 29 KOs) left the comforts of his family in New York to join trainer Andre Rozier for a destination training camp some 3,000 miles away outside of Oakland, California, at Virgil Hunter’s gym.
Along with a second set of eyes as respected as Hunter, who trains the likes of Andre Ward, Amir Khan and Andre Berto, the secondary middleweight titlist also had access to world-class sparring partners. But if you’ve watched the buildup to the fight on HBO’s 24/7 documentary series, there has been one more familiar face that has played a major role.
Former junior welterweight titlist Chris Algieri, who remains an active fighter, joined Jacobs this camp as a nutritionist. But Algieri, who has a bachelor’s degree in health care science from Stony Brook University in New York, quickly saw his role expand to much more.
Along with cooking meals and monitoring Jacobs’ diet, Algieri (21-3, 8 KOs) also became his workout partner, while providing advice when called upon from a boxing perspective. In the process, a bit of a bromance developed.
“This guy can cook his behind off, let me tell you,” Jacobs said. “This guy is the real deal. It was a pure joy to have him in camp and just have great conversations with him, have good nutrition. He understands what it means to be at this level too, which is important.”
Algieri, 33, rose from obscure club fighter to upsetting Ruslan Provodnikov by split decision in 2014 to win a 140-pound title. Five months later he was in Macau, co-headlining a pay-per-view against welterweight titlist Manny Pacquiao, in a fight Algieri lost by decision after getting knocked down six times.
But if you follow Algieri on social media, it’s easy how much nutrition (especially avocados) and clean living are a passion for him. The former kickboxing champion has been quietly working with multiple combat sports fighters in recent years, from boxing and MMA to amateur wrestling. Some of his clientele have included UFC fighters Ryan LaFlare and Dennis Bermudez, along with boxers Paul Malignaggi and Luis Arias.
“It’s something I’ve been doing alongside my own boxing career for a number of years, this is just more high profile and one that I thought would be impossible to hide from the public,” Algieri said. “Not that I was trying to hide it, but I was just trying to help fighters out so they could perform at their best. I just felt that was their job.”
Algieri, a Long Island native, had fought on many of the same local cards as Jacobs, who grew up in the same Brownsville section in Brooklyn that produced Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe and Zab Judah. The idea to work together was birthed through a conversation between Algieri’s manager, Kevin Rooney Jr., and Jacob’s manager, Keith Connolly, who are friends.
It didn’t take long before Jacobs and Algieri became inseparable in camp.
“I actually spend more time with him than anyone else,” Algieri said. “I wake him up in the morning and we have breakfast and we train together. Then we come back and I cook and we eat and sit around and talk about the fight. We watch tape of Gennady’s past fights and I give my insight of what I think would work and what he thinks and we kind of go back and forth in that sense.”
From there, the two go the gym where Jacobs works with his trainers as Algieri observes from a distance, while also putting in his own sparring time to stay fit for an in-ring return in the near future. They end the day with dinner, which Algieri prepares, before going their separate ways for the evening.
Cutting to 160 pounds isn’t easy for Jacobs, who is a big middleweight, and Algieri has focused on properly fueling his body to help him survive the demanding workouts, adding carbohydrates and proteins for recovery and feeling full.
“I was talking to his longtime girlfriend Natalie who was in town and she was saying how Danny wasn’t eating snacks like he normally does [in camp],” Algieri said. “Apparently he is a bit of a night snacker and he hasn’t been complaining about that at all. I said it’s because we are packing in so much nutrition in every single meal, he’s not missing anything. There is no need to go reach for snack or chocolates or candies or popcorn or these kinds of things. He’s at a level where his body is satisfied.”
Algieri was pleased with Jacobs’ body at the mandatory weigh-in 30 days out from Saturday’s fight, which takes place on HBO PPV from New York’s Madison Square Garden. To help with the final cut during fight week, Algieri is taking a hands-on approach.
“I’m going to be cutting my weight as well so he has someone to kind of mirror and to understand that someone else is going through the pain as well,” Algieri said.
The biggest takeaway from camp for Algieri was just how strong Jacobs can punch with both hands.
“That was definitely an eye opener for me,” Algieri said. “I knew he was a big puncher just from watching his fights, but seeing him first hand in the gym, he is an incredible puncher with both hands which you don’t see very often.
“Overall, this training camp we had a mindset of positivity and excitement. We had a lot of fun, we did a lot of hard work and Saturday night is when it all comes together.”
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