Every so often in this great sport we get a must watch fighter who seems to transcend the typical fan base extend of him. One such fighter fighter is Ruslan Provodnikov (23-2, 16), the current WBO Light Welterweight champion.
Provodnikov, dubbed "The Siberian Rocky" for his all action style, is everyone one doesn't expect in a Russian fighter. The text book goes out of the window, the up right stance and educated boxing takes a back seat and instead what we get is a free swinging and somewhat wild looking warrior who does everything in the ring that fans enjoy even if trainers and corner men might not be huge fans. He's happy to take one, or two, or even three in an attempt to launch his own attacks. He's happy to set his feet and swing, he's also happy to chase an opponent in an attempt to cut them off and break them down.
Often with Provodnikov the action isn't pretty. It's not clean cut and smooth. Instead it's violent, rough, tough and bruising. It's as if the fighter has implanted the harsh Siberian landscape on his fighting style and doesn't mind showing it. After all if he survived in the harsh weather at home then he can survive in any ring with any opponent.
Although Provodnikov's style has always been eye catching and his performance on ESPN were often non-stop excitement it wasn't until last year that he managed to come to the attention of the wider boxing public with his great effort against Timothy Bradley. He lost the bout but became an instant fan favourite and his follow up bout with Mike Alvarado saw his popularity grow immensely whilst he also won his first world title.
That title, the WBO Light Welterweight world title, will be defended for the first time this coming Saturday when Provodnikov enters the ring for the first time as a world champion and takes on the unbeaten Chris Algieri (19-0, 8) in a fight that looks like a show case bout on paper for the champion, though promises to be really exciting.
Whilst Provodnikov will be, and deserves to be, the favourite, he's going to be fighting an unbeaten fighter who has a lot of self belief and is a strong man himself. Not only is Algieri strong but he's an intelligent fighter who uses his defence well, as shown in his latest fight against Emmanuel Taylor, moves well and has a very nice variety of punches. There is perhaps a lack of a "special" quality though there is a lot like about Algieri who looks like a fighter who can fight at the top level and hold his own.
Algieri is being shot down by a lot of people online who haven't seen him in action though if they made an effort to watch him they'd realise that he was a very credible challenger for Provodnikov. Sadly though only a handful of opponents are truly suitable for fans who, if they remember correctly, expected Provodnikov to be thoroughly out classed when he fought Bradley before having his break out performance.
What we're expecting is a fun to watch fight that will see Algieri boxing well early on before being dragged into a war with the Russian monster. Sadly for Algieri, though happily for the fans, this is where the fight will pick up and swing towards the defending champion who will begin to wear down the challenger who will fade and eventually be stopped after putting up a brave effort.
Despite feeling like Provodnikov will manage to break down Algieri in the middle rounds there is a chance that the Russian will have under-trained or over-looked his opponent. He was linked to much bigger fights and if the disappointment of fighting the little known Algieri plays on his mind he may well fail to impress. Provodnikov needs to make sure he gets in there and takes care of business in the hope of opening a big door for the end of the year. Bouts against big names are out there if he continues to win and so he needs a big victory here and hopefully that is what is in his head going in to this fight.
(Courtesy of barclayscenter)