Ever since Ruslan Provodnikov exploded onto the scene in his ‘Fight of the Year’ with Timothy Bradley he has been a name that has never far from fight fans lips.
The man dubbed the ‘Siberian Rocky’ won an instant place in the hearts and minds of the boxing public after almost knocking out the undefeated ‘Desert Storm’ at several points when he challenged him for his WBO Welterweight title. Despite tasting defeat on that occasion, one still sensed that he was a dog that would soon have his day.
And so it proved when he finally realised his dream of becoming a world champion by ripping Alvarado’s title from him in stunning fashion, forcing the champion to quit on his stool in front of his hometown fans in between rounds 10 and 11.
The coverage in the build up to the fight between Provodnikov and Bradley was compromised by the hype that surrounded the bout between their more illustrious Top Rank stable mates, Juan Manuel Marquez and Tim Bradley.
But in terms of excitement, the latter was completely eclipsed by the ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate served up by the aforementioned light welterweight gladiators, both of whom have become synonymous with the sort of give and take, trench warfare battles that fight fans lust after.
Yet, to bill this bout simply as a slugfest featuring two crude brawlers with a slender grasp of the fundamentals would be doing both men a tremendous disservice. It was no chess match. But it was a thoroughly absorbing contest, and a fascinating clash of styles.
Still, for many, the outcome of proceedings was decidedly predictable- Provodnikov by knockout victory.
What was surprising, however, was how Providnikov so intelligently managed to cut off the ring. This, of course, was no coincidence. It was a well rehearsed tactic that was executed with great aplomb. It served to undermine ‘Mile High’ Mike Alvarado's fluid movement, compelling him to engage in close quarter exchanges that were bound to get him in big trouble against the irrepressible Russian challenger.
Fighting inside of the proverbial phone box is tailored for Provodnikov, who uses his low centre of gravity to launch his awesome offensive arsenal of clubbing left and right cross combinations, followed by his signature, looping overhand right hands that are delivered with a ferocity seldom seen in the welterweight divisions.
The evidence garnered from his last two fights offers conclusive proof that Provodnikov possesses the tools to trouble any fighter in Top Rank's stable. But 2014 could be the year which takes the Siberian Rocky into a different stratosphere. His demolition job on Alvarado may have been the dress rehearsal for a date with destiny with the great Manny Pacquaio, should he prevail against Brandon Rios in November.
But he must continue to use his fists as dynamite to blitz his opponents and blaze a trail of glory in the boxing world and become the new golden boy of Bob Arum’s Top Rank stable.
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