Boxing

Provodnikov forces Alvarado retirement to become new champion

Provodnikov tears into Alvarado to force the late stoppage (©GettyImages)
Provodnikov tears into Alvarado to force the late stoppage (©GettyImages).

Siberian superstar Ruslan Provodnikov is the new WBO light welterweight champion after Mike Alvarado retired at the end of 10 rounds.

Buoyed by a partisan and lively crowd in his hometown, Alvarado controlled the early stages of the fight but the 'Siberian Rocky' ruthlessly grinded his opponent down with hard-hitting body shots to force the stoppage and claim his first world crown.

The man from Denver, wearing the colours of his local NFL team the Broncos, received a rapturous reception during his ring walk and looked in a confident mood.

With the fight already billed as a fight of the year contender, Alvarado promised he would box the Russian, not get dragged into all out war, and that's what he did in the opening four sessions.

After letting the first go by, he used his superior boxing skills to take a foothold in the bout. Constantly switching between an orthodox and southpaw stance, Alvarado danced around a visibly confused Provodnikov, who failed to cut off the ring as the home fighter picked him off behind the jab as well as working well in close.

The tide began to turn thereon. Possibly suffering from his failure to make weight at the first time of asking, Alvarado began to tire as the Siberian continued to come forward, now connecting with more shots than previously. When the seventh round finished, both men showed facial scars of battle, but the next round was to be the deciding factor.

'Mile High' Mike continued to tire and Provodnikov pounced, stalking Alvarado around the ring and teeing off with combinations. With the crowd now almost silent, he forced the previous champion against the ropes and let go with a barrage of hooks to the head and body, bundling him over. For a second it looked as though Alvarado had missed the count, but referee Tony Weeks ruled the late rise as legal.

Relentlessly pressing forward, the Russian another count inside the eighth with another barrage. Though rising at the count of eight, Alvarado was visibly broken.

The final two rounds continued in the same vein. In the second half of the tenth, eventually the final round of action, Alvarado clung on and had no response to sustained attacks to the head and body. On two occasions at the end of the round, Alvarado wandered into a neutral corner and Weeks had to usher him to his team.

Clearly heartbroken, the Denver man had nothing left in the tank and was pulled out after a consultation with Weeks.

Chief support came from Juan Diaz, the former world title challenger now back in the ring after a self imposed exile for nearly three years. He took a wide decision against a widely overmatched but very game Juan Santiago.

In one of the most one sided fights you are ever likely to see, Santiago looked as though he wouldn't make it past the first few rounds as Diaz took his breath away with hooks to the body.

Santiago, who had lost six of his previous seven, admirably stood up to everything the former challenger had and even took the fourth round. The judges unanimously scored the bout 100-90, 99-91 and 97-93 in favour of Diaz.

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