Ruslan Provodnikov had the deck stacked against him heading into his fight with Junior Welterweight champion Mike Alvarado. Ruslan would be challenging the champ in his home town of Denver, Colorado. In front of a crowd that was almost 100% in the corner of Alvarado. Ruslan had a small area curved out for his family members, which included his mother who came all the way from Serbia, and a few of his promotional team.
Ruslan also came in exactly at the listed weight, while Alvarado came in a pound heavy at the weigh ins and 12 pounds heavier the night of the fight.
All of that would shake the confidence of most fighters but not Provodnikov.
From the opening bell it was easy to see that Ruslan was the aggressor in the fight. Alvarado was never awarded the chance to move forward and instead choose to side step all of Ruslan’s advances. Alvarado switched back-and-forth between a traditional and southpaw stance all night in an attempt to slow the flurry of punches from Provodnikov.
The fighters entered the 5th round even on most cards but from then on Ruslan took control and dominated the power punches thrown and landed categories. The once mind numbingly loud crowd was silenced by the constant pressure applied by Ruslan. By the time the 8th round came Provodnikov had injured the right eye of Alvarado and was throwing punches in bunches.
The combinations took their toll with a knockdown of Alvarado in the 8th, which looked as though it’d be the end of the match. The heart of the champion prevailed though as he made it to his feet by the count of 8. It didn’t take long for Provodnikov to pounce again and drop Alvarado to the canvas once more. Though Alvarado again beat the count the writing was on the wall. He was no longer trying to win the fight but instead trying to survive.
At the end of the 10th round Alvarado’s corner had seen enough. Ruslan spent the two rounds since the knockdowns pummelling Alvarado with body shots and the champ was unable to protect himself. The referee was notified and Provdonikov captured the title by 10th round TKO.
Ruslan showed his talent as a brawler but his ability to take boxers out of their game plan and comfort zone really is what awed boxing fans.
With the Timothy Bradley vs Juan Manuel Marquez fight being just a week earlier you can truly see how uncomfortable Ruslan made Bradley. Bradley was able to dance around Marquez and even win the toe-to-toe exchanges with him when need be. Bradley was concussed midway through the fight when he tried that with Provodnikov.
Honestly, Ruslan gave Timothy Bradley more competition than either Manny Pacquaio or JMM.
He’s showed that his fighting style is fan friendly and that he is worthy in a bump up in competition. Bradley is now HBO’s PPV guy with his last victory and I think they can point to the first action packed fight between these two fighters as a reason to buy the PPV.
Ruslan is much deserving of the opportunity and the fight could be a great launching point for either fighter to face Floyd Mayweather Jr next fall.