2013 was a tremendous year for boxing and rise of Ruslan Provodnikov was well documented in the media with the most notable example being HBO’s 2 days. If scripted, his real life Rocky story would be hard to believe a few years ago when Ruslan was a crude one-dimensional fighter vying to become a contender at 140.
Teaming up with world renowned trainer Freddie Roach, has helped Ruslan sharpen his strengths offensively becoming a force to be reckon with for anybody at the junior welterweight division.
After losing a closely fought dual to Mauricio Herrera, Ruslan managed to string together five straight wins in a row setting up an opportunity of a lifetime. Timothy Bradley was put through hell in his FOTY war with Provodnikov. When the smoke cleared it didn’t really matter to the fans how judges had it scored.
Though Ruslan left the ring without a strap around his waist, the people had spoken and universally crowned him a people’s champ. Provodnikov finished his 2013 terror with a bang, violently dispatching than 140 pound Champion Mike Alvarado, rendering him respectfully to his stool after ten brutal rounds.
Manny Pacquaio and Juan Manuel Marquez were at the top of the list for names that were thrown around as possible opponents for Ruslan, ultimately passed over tagged as high risk low reward. In marches a matchup that pits brawler versus boxer from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
On the surface it’s a run of the mill, showcase-type fight judging from the 7-1 betting odds in favor of Ruslan Provodnikov. Digging a bit deeper one can see an inexperienced yet skilled opponent in New York native, Chris Algieri, who could out put up more of fight than most think.
Algieri doesn’t have the best pro resume and has no amateur background to speak of. Before boxing Algieri was a successful kick boxer with this will no doubt be a huge step up in his still blossoming career.
That said Chris does have skill both offensively and more importantly defensively. He shows the ability to not only elude a punch with good foot and upper body movement, but is also a very capable counterpuncher with his right hand.
His compubox numbers are very impressive, averaging 92 punches a round, with albeit a limited number of fights calculated. I don’t think Algieri would even want to be that busy facing a power puncher like Provodnikov, but it does prove that he can go deep into a fight without his activity dropping off.
Algieri needs to use a stiff jab and pivot, allowing him to stay at range, taking full advantage of his 5 inch reach. Being first will be another key for Chris, that and how he reacts to the pressure of Ruslan.
It could be a short night if Algieri begins to exchange with Provodnikov. After all, he has been at least stood up or possible buzzed twice in recent fights, none of those men posses the kind of heavy artillery he will be in battle with this Saturday Night on HBO.
One thing that will come in handy is the clinch when the fight is on the inside. If Algieri can smother his work it will take some power off Ruslan’s shot and possible frustrating him in the process.
I mentioned Chris’s resume earlier, which is very so-so heading into the biggest fight of his life, and the lack of experience in a high profile fight could play a large role in his undoing. If I were to bet with the underdog for this HBO card it probably would be on Justin Rose versus Demetrius Andrade instead of Chris Algieri. But, this scribe will stay on the sidelines when it comes to wagering on a fight this weekend.
Not to say that Algieri won’t cause some problems for the “Siberian Rocky”, it’s a matter of how long he can be a problem. The fact that Emmanuel Taylor was able to cut the ring off on Algieri doesn’t bode well for the New Yorker.
Provodnikov’a defensive liabilities will ensure a competitive and compelling fight until the pressure finally slows Algieri, who may have enough savvy to survive the distance.
My official prediction is Ruslan Provodnikov by late stoppage or clear decision.