SAN DIEGO, October 19, 2013 – Even ring announcer Michael Buffer seemed to put a little something extra on his signature line, “Let’s get ready to rumble!” at the beginning of the Mike Alvarado vs. Ruslan Provodnikov fight. Boxing media, the 7,021 fans in the soldout 1STBank Arena in Denver, and those watching from home commenting on Twitter had a high level of anticipation.
With good reason. From the first bell, Provodnikov pressed the action, cutting off the ring and crowding Alvarado, forcing him to drop his attempts to box and get aggressive in return. It was Provodnikov’s ability to push Alvarado into trading shots rather than employing his boxing skills that secured the “Siberian Rocky” the TKO victory.
Alvarado used his feet and speed and scored with hooks and upper cuts while avoiding the worst of Provodnikov’s punishment several times. But when the fight became a war of attrition, not even the iron tough Alvarado could stand up in the end to the relentless Russian’s attack.
Alvarado opened a cut under Provodnikov’s left eye by the fourth round, but his corner did a masterful job containing the damage. Alvarado’s right eye started closing up about the seventh round, and it was nearly shut by the end of the fight.
Halfway through the fight, most observers had the scorecards dead even. In Round 8, Provodnikov got Alvarado up against the ropes and unleashed a barrage of punches. One minute into the round, Alvarado went down for the first time in his professional boxing career. He barely stood up in time to beat the count from referee Tony Weeks. Less than a minute later, Alvarado wisely took a knee after a right hook connected.
Trying to fight his way out, Alvarado switched to a southpaw stance and got into an exchange with Provodnikov, making it to the end of the round. “Those are two champions we just saw!” said HBO’s Max Kellerman.
With the hometown crowd chanting “3-0-3, 3-0-3” for the Denver area code, Alvarado did his best to slow Provodnikov down. He took whatever punishment Alvarado had left and simply kept coming. Alvarado’s heart carried him through two more rounds. At the end of the tenth round, Provodnikov put Alvarado against the ropes, finishing with a vicious right at the end of the round that sent Alvarado wobbling back to his corner. These two define what it means to be able to take a punch.
Alvarado’s trainer Shann Vilhauer said to his fighter, “Mike, you have nothing left. We’re done.” Referee Tony Weeks approached the corner and addressed Alvarado himself. “Are you OK, you gotta tell me.” When Alvarado didn’t answer, Weeks said, “OK, we’re done” and stopped the fight.
It was the right call. Alvarado needed a knockout to win after the two knockdowns in Round 8, and it wasn’t going to happen. There was no need to risk the fighter’s well-being making him finish the bout.
Provodnikov (23-2, 16 KOs) landed 206 punches to Alvarado’s 182, at a lesser overall connect percentage. But Provodnikov landed more power punches, 168 to 132 for Alvarado (31-2, 23 KOs). Watching the fight, every single one of those punches counted.
Provodnikov said after the bout to HBO’s Kellerman through a translator with his mother at his side in the ring: “I knew what I had to do was break him. I knew I couldn’t disappoint my team … It wasn’t about the title.”
Provodnikov credited the support of his team and family, and his trainer Freddie Roach for spending the time with him he needed. “He put on his mitts, he put on his cover for his body, he let me hit him hard. If it wasn’t for him, I couldn’t have automated the punches in the ring,” said Provodnikov.
Roach wasn’t in Denver to see his fighter win. He was working with Manny Pacquiao in the Philippines for his upcoming fight. Roach’s assistant Marvin Somodio worked the corner for Provodnikov. “He was very calm, he told me what to do, and it worked. He’s the Filipino Freddie Roach,” said Provodnikov.
Alvarado initially declined an interview, but changed his mind. He told Max Kellerman, “He shook me up with quite a few shots. I wasn’t able to recover the way I usually do. I want to look after my health. I could have fought through it, but it’s more dangerous taking multiple shots like that at the end. It was a good decision to end the fight,” admitted Alvarado.
“Once you get into that ring, it’s man to man. All the respect to him … It’s just the way the fight ended, it’s styles and styles make fights I was keeping him out as much as I could, the fight was just destined to go that way.”
Provodnikov’s win puts Timothy Bradley’s victory over the Russian in March into perspective. Added to his victory October 12 over Juan Manuel Marquez, replayed prior to tonight’s main event, the undefeated Bradley’s accomplishments might finally get some respect.
Asked who he would like to fight next, Provodnikov said, “Don’t make me give you the answer right now. The answer right now: I’m very tired. Let me rest and I’ll give you an answer.”
It isn’t likely to be Manny Pacquiao. Freddie Roach trains both fighters. But after Brandon Rios fights Pacquiao in November, the prospect of a Rios vs. Provodnikov matchup would be a dandy Christmas present for fans. A rematch with Timothy Bradley would be equally welcome and a bigger payday for everyone. This time more than 2,000 people will be in the stands with a meager audience watching on TV.
As for Mike Alvarado, fans will warmly welcome his return to the ring. There were truly no losers tonight except on paper.
Provodnikov’s victory Saturday probably won’t dethrone his bout with Bradley in March as the likely 2013 Fight of the Year, but he’s now sitting in two of the three top spots at the least.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
Copyright © 2013 by Falcon Valley Group
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