After successfully avenging a loss from Brandon Rios early this year, Mike Alvarado’s reward from Top Rank was some good ole fashion home cooking and a stylistic matchup with Ruslan Provodnikov that should guarantee entertainment.
Can Alvarado stay focused on the game plan with extra weight placed on his shoulders by a hero’s welcome he’ll get from his fans that will fill the 1STBANKCenter in Denver, Colorado? Will Provodnikov build on a loss that raised his profile amongst fans who thought he was only at the ESPN level talent?
And most importantly to the fans that tune in on HBO and fill the seats at the live gate, will there be blood?
Ruslan Provodnikov had his moment in the spotlight last March on HBO in what was supposed to be a showcase fight for Timothy Bradley after being out of the ring with injuries, both physical and emotional, he sustained during and after his fight with Manny Pacquiao.
The Bradley vs. Provodnikov fight, which turned out to be the leading contender for fight of the year, deservingly got lots of flak for being made by the hardcore’s, who saw it as another easy paycheck for an HBO fighter.
Ruslan raised his game to a new level giving fans the fight of the year leader with Bradley, who underestimated him choosing to flash back to his old days standing right in the pocket throwing bombs. Provodnikov hurt him forcing Bradley to retreat and regroup switching to plan b.
Bradley moved laterally and stayed busy getting touched up enough to get hurt a few more times but his grit and heart prevailed in a close points win.
Alvarado used a similar technique in the 2nd fight with Rios, except he was closer , staying in and around the pocket, pivoting out after punching was key when he took over a great two way brawl that had both combatant’s hurt early.
Bradley is more fundamental on defense and has better hand speed than Alvarado. Provodnikov was able to land his chopping right hands time and time again hurting Bradley. Bradley after his early bravado decided to move, and most of the fight was on the move, yet Ruslan was able to land effectively while being out boxed.
What that tells me is Alvarado will be on the move at some point and when he is, Ruslan shouldn’t have much of a problem catching up to Mike the way Rios did. Mike will have to take some punishment if not a lot to while attempting to slow down Provodnikov.
Mauricio Herrera fought both men earning a decision win over Ruslan Provodnikov and losing a close decision to Mike Alvarado. He gave his take on the fight stating, “I think it’s gonna be a gladiator type fight. They both are hungry to win. Ruslan’s strengths are that he has knockout power in both hands from round 1 thru 12.
Herrera thinks it will be a good fight adding his prediction “Alvarado is physically strong and has a good chin. I think his upper cuts and throwing a lot of punches is the key. But I feel Ruslan can hurt him early. I give the edge to Ruslan.”
Alvarado does a great job of mixing up his power shots with upper cuts that he will lead with at times, right hands, and flurries to the body all behind his stiff jab thrown not just once at a time. Alvarado can use his ability to score on the outside without being too far out of range.
When he found his groove versus Brandon Rios he would reset after a flurry, moving laterally pumping that stiff jab allowing him to use his reach and not get hit as much or as clean. Combination power punches and jabs then pivoting out is when Alvarado’s is at his best using offense with different looks for defense just staying on the edge of the pocket rather than in the phone booth the whole fight.
When Alvarado is moving just to move that’s where his defensive liabilities can be exposed by Provodnikov. Alvarado has a bad habit of almost taking a bounce step sideways which is something he did early in his last fight that Harold Lederman pointed out after the third round. Just moving to move gets Mike in trouble making it easier to hunt him down and also results in walking himself in to the ropes.
Alvarado has a 3 inch reach advantage in height and is overall the more skilled fighter. Mike is accurate and busy while Ruslan with all this power is very stiff and robotic. As long as Alvarado can take Provodnikov’s power punches, which should pack more of a punch at 140 after fighting at 147 with Timothy Bradley, he should be able to fight smart and entertain much in the fashion he did against Brandon Rios.
I think he may be able to dominate the fight more than he did with Rios. But Mike will have to take some punishment at some point. I see plenty of right hand exchanges maybe both guys hurt early but at some point Alvarado will find his groove.
Ruslan Provondnikov wants to make it a rock’em sock’em inside old school scrap. It will be a fight that has potential with the way the style’s matchup from a matchmaking standpoint to feature plenty of two way action.
Can Alvarado stay discipline enough to play rock’em and box’em? Sounds cheesy yes but will he be a fighter that learns from his mistakes the way he did in the first fight with Rios, swinging for the fences in a fight he was winning? In his very next fight he learned from his mistake, corrected it, and won the fight being a tad bit smarter.
There is a good chance that Alvarado finds his groove, has the lead and with the HBO lens in his home turf goes for the finish only to get caught in the trap of a brawl to please his fans. Alvarado has been hurt and excluding the first Rios fight has been able to recoup more than once in his career.
Could we see a fight similar to his war with Breidis Prescott that saw a bloody Alvarado rally to win the fight? Boxing fans can only hope to get a fight near that spectacular?
I fully anticipate a top 5 fight of the year candidate. I also anticipate Alvarado by mid fight taking over the action with subtle pivot’s that will keep him busy, Provodnikov off balanced, and able to land clean punches in combination.
What remains to be seen is if Alvarado fights using his natural advantages because he gets hurt early or does he from the start, attempt to establish his game plan and exchange late with a lead.
I see back and forth fight with both men getting hurt, putting on a show with Alvarado pulling away either mid or championship rounds.
My official pick is Mike Alvarado by a close and competitive unanimous decision.
Chris Carlson is the owner and host of Rope A Dope Radio at www.blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio
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