I came clean with Andre Rozier from the get go.
“Your guy Chris Algieri is 35…and, ‘Dre,' I told the trainer, ‘I had serious reservations about whether at 35, he could readily handle the cut to 140 pounds. Because I saw him have more trouble in his last fight, against a guy, Daniel Gonzalez, back in January, then I thought maybe he should have. So,” I continued, “I really didn't assume Algieri would handle club fighter plus Tommy Coyle at MSG on Saturday.”
Rozier, bless him, listened patiently and politely and respectfully. It is that vibe which has his guys seeing him as “Uncle” Dre, and gives an indication of his personality, which is an embracing type. He calls his favorites “nephews,” and yes, I confess, I readily admit I appreciate his out-front ability to be warm and loving.
First, we joked…
“Rozier, we get along pretty good…but you never call me ‘nephew,”' I noted. “So, what am I? What is second tier, if you aren't at ‘nephew' status?”
He offered a chuckle, and I could picture his eyes twinkle. “Associate,” he stated.
Well, um, OK, I guess I can be that, I cracked back.
And then back to that bout, which saw Algieri start slow, then get warmed up, and then really get cooking, and affect a stoppage with some nifty body work.
“I'm working with Chris for the third fight now,” Rozier said of the 24-3 Long Islander. “”He's truly one of my favorite kids. He got nephew status early on! So, he said coming in, ‘I'm gonna knock Coyle out.' And I told him, ‘then we got to work real hard. work him to the body, turn him a lot. In the beginning, he started a little slow. That second round woke him up. I told him I didn't want any more going against the ropes. Me and his co-trainer Keith Trimble, we're on the same page, he's my partner in crime. We said, keep pushing Tommy, keep backing him up, going to the body, and he started being more fluid with his attack.”
I shared that I heard him in the corner, being like that stern uncle, when he told Chris to get off the ropes. “I hate the ropes! That's the throne in that center of the ring! So, Chris sometimes starts a little slow, we did warmups, real good in the back, I thought, ‘He's gonna kill this guy.' So, moving forward, we stay attuned to that, because it's not physical, but it's mental. So, we stay attuned and keep articulating in the ring, and then he will be a two time champ by the end of the year.”
And it looks like WBO titlist Maurice Hooker would be in the cross hairs. I again went into straight talk mode; Mo is solid, and I don't see Chris being the favorite in that fight, my friend, I said.
“Big Mike, people have been starting to notice the difference in Algieri, he's sitting down on his shots more. He's not looking to caress the ring now.”
No, that setting down on shots will and would be necessary to gain the respect of Hooker, not at all a slouch, from Texas, it was agreed upon.
Algieri will get some rest and then be back to the gym, to seek to refine more with unc. “It'll be back to doing home work, sharpening tools…it's havoc time!”
Rozier said he's loving meshing with the hungry Algieri..and said that his crew, including “Richard Commey, Kemahl Russell, Duke Micah, all these kids make me smile!”
My three cents: I was re-impressed with Rozier's manner, his vibe, his passion and his POV. The sport has more guys like this than most assume, but really, he is a full cut above most of 'em.