The WBA's multiple world title system is a farce in terms of knowing who is the best in the world. What is does allow however is for some fantastic fights to be mandated to fill the pointless vacancies the WBA creates for it's self. The bouts really should be eliminators, and are often the quality we expect of eliminators, but without the eventual winner getting their shot at the main belt, which gets lost in some world of it's own.
Today we saw a WBA "regular" title fight, fit for any belt, as Uzbek born Batyr Akhmedov (7-1, 6) and American Mario Barrios (25-0, 16) put on a legitimate FOTY contender. Unlike many FOTY contenders this wasn't a hard fight with a lot of competitive rounds, in fact it was a relatively easy fight to score, but one that was still incredibly competitive and close.
The fight started well for Barrios, who was moving well, landing his shots at range and making his natural size count. He looked like he was too big, too powerful and too quick for Akhmedov through the first 3 rounds, neutralising the pressure of the smaller man. In round 4 Barrios's speed and power saw him drop Akhmedov, albeit more of a flash knockdown than anything hurtful, in one of his best moments of the fight.
Whilst Barrios did score the knockdown in round 4 it actually seemed like he lit a fire under Akhmedov who bounced amazingly well. From being dropped part way through round 4 Akhmedov began to up his output and pressure, and began to really hammer Barrios with an incredibly intensity. The increase in work rate saw Akhmedov pretty much sweep rounds 5 to 11 with out too much coming back. Barrios managed to have success in rounds 8 and 9, but it was very limited success, and seemed more a case of steadying a sinking ship, rather than turning it around.
Barrios was looking tired, swollen around the left eye, and relying on his toughness, coming through a real test of his durability. Other fighters would have quit but Barrios, knowing he had a good start, gutted it out, looking to to stay up right, hoping to do something to turn the tide back in his favour. Amazingly in the final seconds of round 12 something did come for Akhmedov, who landed a right hand to score a flash knockdown, his second of the fight. It was completely the run of the round, and was huge.
The knockdown in the final moments seemed to do enough to leave the bout in some debate. Was it a 10-8 or a 10-9? Sadly, but unsurprisingly in the world of boxing, it didn't matter what the round was to be scored. The judges had the bout all in favour of Barrios 114-112, 115-111 and 116-111.
At a push we can see the 114-112 card, the others however, are terrible with the 116-111 card being completely indefensible.
Giving Barrios rounds 1-4, 8 and 9, where he showed something though didn't appear to do enough to win either, and round 12, literally giving Barrios everything you could still doesn't leave it possible to get him a 116 card. That judge should be forced to explain his card. But of course this is boxing, and that won't be happening.
For the fighters this was a bout that lived up to the expectations of being something very special. It was thrilling, the twist at the end with the second knockdown was a dramatic turn, the heart of Barrios to fight through a grotesquely swollen face and the will to win of Akhmedov were amazing. The fight back after a bad start from Akhmedov was great. It's just a shame, once again, the politics in boxing has sullied what was a great fight, from both men.
The World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) Season 2 began today and actually kicked off with a tape delay bout in the Light Welterweight division. The bout saw WBA champion Kiryl Relikh (23-2, 19) facing off with former IBF champion Eduard Troyanovsky (27-2, 24) in what looked like an excellent match up on paper. Sadly the bout didn't quite manage to have the fireworks expected of it, though still managed deliver a competitive and compelling contest between two well matched fighters. Just not one that quite managed to deliver the explosive action we had anticipated.
The first round was a close one with Troyanovsky getting his jab into the face of Relikh who looked to come in and make the fight a more active back and forth. It was a risky strategy from the Belarusian but one that showed his belief in his own durability. Relikh's belief in his physical strength saw him often being the man who pressed the action, but there was always a worry that Troyanovsky would land a brutal right hand, something he has done in the past even when being out boxed.
Relikh's insistence on coming forward was clumsy at times but saw him landing some solid left hands whilst Troyanovsky managed to land the heavier looking shots, particularly his jab and his counter shots. It looked like both men were dangerous, and both had the potential to stop the other, but neither man could ever quite land their cleanest and hard shots.
As we entered the middle rounds things began to get a touch sloppier, but the bout was hard to take your eyes off with Relikh continue to march forward, looking to land heavy shots but taking the occasional hard single shot from the big punching Russian challenger.
With Relikh applying all the pressure Troyanovsky was essentially fighting as a back-foot counter puncher, with a low output but landing clean hard punches as Relikh came in. Relikh's pressure had a break through in round 9 as he pinned Troyanovsky on the ropes and unloaded. Despite being under heavy pressure Troyanovsky countered well, landing a huge uppercut and a massive hook, but couldn't discourage the champion who kept marching in.
The final rounds saw the intensity drop but for the most part Relikh continued to be the aggressor, that was until the final minute, when Troyanovsky's power really hard it's first break through, hurting Relikh who backed off. It was the clearest round for Troyanovsky, thanks to a perfect 1-2 that really stunned Relikh and allowed him to take control. By then however it was too little too late.
The general feeling was that Relikh had always been the aggressor. Troyanovsky made great use of his jab through out, but was often looking the less hungry fighter and in the end this proved to be the difference, with Relikh taking the unanimous decision, with close card of 115-113 from all 3 judges.
After the fight Relikh was unhappy with his own performance, stating he hunted too much for the KO. Troyanovsky, who went 12 rounds for the first time in his career, seemed proud of his performance and a case could have been made the if he was just a year or two younger he'd have take the win here.
Late last year we saw Kazakh born Russian Sergey Lipinets (13-1, 10) claim the IBF Light Welterweight title as he out pointed Akihiro Kondo a tough and gruelling fight. In his first defense, this past Saturday night, Lipinets battled multi-weight champion Mikey Garcia (38-0, 30), and this time Lipinet's would be unable to come out on top, losing a very tough and damaging fight.
Garcia looked incredible to begin the bout, winning the first two rounds and looking close to untouchable as he controlled the distance, landed some massive right hands and looked amazingly crisp. In round 3 however the fight took a swing towards Lipinets, who busted Garcia's nose and began to make adjustments to avoid some of the right hands Garcia was landing. It wasn't enough to win the round, but it was making life tougher for Garcia.
In the middle rounds Lipinets began to find more and more success, having success with his own jab, and tagging the body of Garcia, who seemed to become a little bit hesitant and held back slightly. It allowed Lipinets to make the middle rounds a little bit more competitive, and at one point it began to look like Garcia was going to be worn down and forced to fight Lipinet's fight.
The success of Lipinets was forgotten somewhat in round 7 when Garcia dropped him with a monstrous hook. The heart Lipinets showed to get to his feet was impressive, and but from there on it seemed like Garcia had a second wind, and a new found belief as he went on to clearly win the following few rounds. At times Lipinets did will to trap Garcia on the ropes, but struggled to do anything with him on them, and despite having moments, he never managed to grab he bout by the scruff off the neck.
The final round came around and it was clear Lipinets had to go big, and to his credit he tried, especially early on and very late, and at one point he did have Garcia in some trouble. Sadly for him however Garcia saw off the storm and landed his own eye catching shots to finish strongly against the tough and offensive Kazakh.
Despite the effort from the Kazakh he had clear lost, the judges saw it a clear win for Garcia with scores of 116-111, and 117-110, twice to become a 4 weight champion and score his latest big win. He not only won, with some ease, but showed his power carries up to Light Welterweight, all the way from Featherweight, and that he is a man who still has a lot left to give the sport, at whatever weight he'll be continuing his career at.
For Lipinets this loss is a serious setback, and despite the loss he will remain a top Light Welterweight, but will also be on that many other contenders will look to avoid give his toughness, desire and power.
The Light Welterweight division was, earlier this year, the only division with an undisputed champion thanks to Terence Crawford. Having conquered the division Crawford stated his intent was to move up, and as a result a number of titles became vacant. One of those was the IBF title, which saw a new champion being crowned on Saturday, as Kazakh born Russian based fighter Sergey Lipinets (13-0, 10) out pointed Japan's Akihiro Kondo (29-7-1, 16) [近藤 明広] in a really tough and draining bout.
The fight started really well for Lipinets, who looked too slick, too fresh and too quick for Kondo early on. The Japanese fighter walked forward through some big shots from Lipinets and it was clear that Kondo's toughness was going to give Lipinets problems with the Japanese fighter showing no fear of Lipinets' much lauded power.
As the fight went on Kondo began to pick up the pace, began to find his range and began to press the tempo, with his body shots beginning to connect almost as often as the ones thrown by Lipinets. The Kazakh seemed to have more power on his shots but he never discouraged Kondo who's body assault in round 3 seemed to take a toll on Lipinet's, who was being forced to work harder than he'd have expected. The increase in work from Lipinets showed in round 4, a very good round for him, but in round 5 it slowed and Kondo began to find cracks. A right hand from Kondo part way through the round seemed to clearly buzz Lipinets, who got on his bike late in the round.
In round Kondo's aggression amped up again and when the two men got too close a headclash left Lipinets with a cut on the hairline. The doctor did look at the cut but it seemed clear that the cut was never going to be fight ending. Itstead of threatening to end the fight early the cut was encouragement for Kondo who had one of his best rounds in round 7, and built on that in rounds 8 and 9 as he began to carve into the lead of Lipinets and make things very interesting. Not only was Kondo having success but Lipinets was beginning to tire and that showed in a pretty low action round 10, where Lipinets used a lot of movement, but threw very little.
Despite looking to have faded over the previous few rounds Lipinets managed to find a second wind in round 11 as he used his skills to make the most of Kondo's mistakes. It was a really good comeback round form Lipinets and left Kondo with work to do in the final 3 minutes, and boy did Kondo go for it. The Japanese warrior took the fight to Lipinets through an action packed final round, with Lipinets being forced to work hard to keep up with Kondo.
Having 12 rounds both men showed the damage of war over their faces, with with both having lumps and bumps visible on their face. Sadly for Kondo though the judges weren't impressed by his success and gave Lipinets the bout with scores of 118-110 and 117-111.
We don't think many would argue too strongly against Lipinets winning, but we also don't see how the bout was so wide. We had the bout 115-113 to Lipinets, Steve Farhood for Showtime had it 114-114 and it was certainly a closer contests than the judges suggest. For Lipinets it was a title win that took some shine off his rise, whilst the loss for Kondo certainly enhanced his profile, and he will likely get another big Stateside fight if he wants one. It was a funny old outcome, but a very good fight.
An amazing fact, but in someways a disappointing one, is that no Japanese fighter has ever won a world title bout in Europe. That record continued earlier today as Japanese Light Welterweight Keita Obara (16-2-1, 15) [小原 佳太] suffered a painful second round loss to Russian puncher Eduard Troyanovsky (25-0, 22) in a bout held in Moscow for the IBF and IBO titles.
The opening round was a close one with both fighting cautiously, neither wanting to over-commit or take too many risks. It saw Obara being tagged by one notable right hand and one uppercut whilst landing one solid right hand of his own, pretty much everything else that connected was a jab with both understanding that the other man had serious power.
Whilst Obara seemed to acquit himself well for the opening round that was all forgotten in round 2 when Troyanovsky moved into third gear and Obara failed to respond before being hurt. A follow up attack sent Obara through the ropes and outside of the ring and immediately saw Troyanovsky celebrate with a backflip. Obara's fighting instinct kicked in and he pulled himself form the ground and back into the ring ring but hadn't recovered from the shots that had sent him out of the ring and and he was stopped soon afterwards from a follow up attack that forced the referee to stop him.
For the champion the this was one of his most impressive performances. A slow start saw him move through the gears, hurt his man and follow up with a vicious attack that leaves the champion as arguably the most destructive fighter at 140lbs today. Maybe not the most skilled, that's obvious Terence Crawford, but the most destructive.
For Obara the next move will be a difficult one. He could go back to Japan and fight at Oriental level, with fights against the likes of Al River and Hiroki Okada being interesting assignments, a move up in weight could also be interesting, with bouts against the likes of Suyon Takayama, Jack Brubaker and Toshio Arikawa. Sadly though the loss, and the nature of it, will be hard to bounce back from and it could be that he takes a long break before considering a ring return.
The Chinese boxing scene has really come alive in recent years with the emergence of the Macao scene. Sadly however that rising in activity and attention has yet to really bare much in terms of success. Earlier this year it was Zou Shiming coming up short, after he tasted the world level against Amnat Ruenroeng, and we've also seen Ma Yi Ming get blitzed by Randy Petalcorin, but today it was Ik Yang (19-1-0-1, 14) who came up short as he was easily out-boxed by Cesar Rene Cuenca (48-0-0-2, 2) in a bout for the IBF Light Welterweight title.
Coming in to the bout Yang was the big betting favourite. He was the puncher, the younger fighter and the man at home. In the end however those advantages didn't matter as Cuenca was so much more skilled than Yang and it was clear from the first round.
From the off Cuenca was on his toes, landing sharp, but light, jabs and straights that found their way through to the target time and time again. The accuracy and consistency of Cuenca's shots, and the intelligence of his footwork was simply too much for Yang, who looked lost. Whilst the start was poor for the Chinese fighter it was made worse by the knockdown call he had against him when he stumbled, off balance, into the ropes.
Following the awful start for Yang things just got worse. Rounds 2,3 and 4 were all 1-sided with Cuenca being far too good for the Chinese fighter who struggled to land more than a handful of shots whilst being tagged frequently by the talented Argentinian veteran.
A rare moment of success for Yang was seen in round 5 when he managed to draw Cuenca into a short lived fire-fight that saw the Argentinian suffer a flash knockdown. It essentially neutralised the opening round knock-down against Yang but did little to turn around the 3 rounds that Yang had lost between the opening and the 5th. Even worse for Yang was the fact it seemed to further build Cuenca's resistance to exchanging shots.
In round 6 seemed to slowly though Yang failed to make the most of his opportunity to close the scores and by the end of the round it looked like Cuenca had re-found his rhythm. The following round saw Yang have one of his better rounds, and in fact it could have gone Yang's way, with the Chinese fighter landing more shots in the round he had in a number of others. Sadly for him it was another fleeting moment of success.
From round 8 to round 11 Cuenca did what he had been doing early on and he controlled Yang with complete ease. The Chinese fighter could do little other than plod forward looking like a fighter without a gameplan and with out any help from his team. The only thing Yang seemed to have was frustration, which was further hindering his cause as he threw some bizarre shots that were never likely to catch a guy like Cuenca.
Going into the final round Yang knew he'd need a KO and for the first time in the fight he fought as if he needed one. From the bell to start the round Yang fought like like a wild man, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Cuenca who was forced to hold on numerous times. During one of those holds Yang tossed his man to the canvas, resulting in a point deduction, though it was clear that he knew it was now or never. Sadly for Yang however it wasn't to be as the clock ran down and the bell rang to end the fight.
For Yang this loss should send him down the rankings though given his style and popularity he should be involved in some exciting bouts whilst maybe even competing in and around the OPBF level, which could make for some very interesting fights. As for Cuenca this win opens up a lot of possibly interesting match ups and despite his lack of a punch it seems clear it's going to take a very good fighter to beat him.
The search for the second Chinese world champion, sadly, continues.
Some fights make give us low expectations and we end up having the fight we expect with little in terms of highlight action. Other fights however end up being better than expected and the WBA "regular" Light Welterweight title fight this past Saturday certainly exceeded expectation with both men giving their all. Despite some major question marks from the judging panel which again managed to over-shadow a very good fight.
The fight saw defending champion Jessie Vargas (25-0, 9) start off fast against Russian challenger Anton Novikov (29-1-0-1, 10) before being forced to slow his work rate courtesy of Novikov's body shots. The slowing of Vargas appeared to let Novikov back in to the fight and he appeared to win the next 3 to tie the bout off going into the second half of the contest. From then on however things became more and more competitive with neither man really establishing themselves as the boss for more than a few rounds at a time.
The back and forth, not just of rounds but actually in the rounds themselves was great to watch with both men appearing to trouble the other at times but neither really being all that hurt, in fact Novikov's legs straightening was as close as we get to a knock-down as the lack of power from both men showed it's self. Thankfully however the lack of power, which could have destroyed the bout in some ways, actually helped the bout with both men looking happy to take one if they were to land one, in fact both guys were happy to take 2 or 3 if they felt comfortable in landing the same in return.
By the later rounds Vargas was being admonished by his corner as they seemed to feel he was letting the title slip away. Round after round his corner were asking him what he was doing whilst he was being out landed, out hustled and generally given a very hard time by the Russian visitor. As well as struggling to keep the pace Vargas was also struggling to keep shots north of the border with several shots landing clearly below the belt. There was never any time in which 1 fighter appeared to look comfortable.
Sadly however Novikov he had battles outside of the ring that he was never going to win and when the score-cards were read out as 118-111, 118-111, 117-111 it was clear he was never going to win the fight with out scoring a knockout, in fact there every chance he was going to be jobbed even if that happened.
We have no problem with Vargas winning, but it was close and 115-113 either way would have been acceptable, in fact 116-112 either way was understandable. How any judges had it wider is a mystery though should make it clear that fighting Vargas in Nevada isn't worth the effort. This is the 4th or 5th time he has been given the nod in a close fight and it seems it will be impossible to dethrone him there.
We're glad that the fight was unexpectedly good, we're ashamed of the judging however.
Through out boxing history we've seen a fighter taking their big chance upsetting the odds with a stirring and memorable performance and it happened again this past Saturday night as likeable American Chris Algieri (20-0, 8) put on a brave and memorable effort, to defeat the all action Ruslan Provodnikov (23-3, 16) and claim the WBO Light Welterweight world title.
Like Provodnikov, who himself made his name by shocking everyone in giving Timothy Bradley an extremely tough test, it seemed being written off spurred on Algieri who really put on an upset of the year type of performance.
It seemed unlikely that Algieri was going to win going in to the fight. It seemed even more unlikely when the challenger was down twice in the opening round and was suffering from a badly swollen right eye that appeared likely to threaten an early conclusion to the bout. It seemed, at that point, that Algieri wouldn't last long under the onslaught of Provodnikov who was bringing intense pressure to the ring.
The pressure of Provodnikov continued to make the action tough but round after round it seemed the Russian was struggling with the difficult and tricky Algieri who was beginning to out work and out land Provodnikov who looked more like he was trying to land single shots rather than work his way in and pin Algieri down. It was a mistake of Provodnikov to try and knock out Algieri in every round with single bombs whilst being force fed a lovely variety of shots from Algieri who was looking better and better every round.
In the middle rounds Algieri's nose began to bleed, his eye became more swollen and his mouth seemed to begin to bleed as Provodnikov's power took it's effect on the American, even though he was struggling to land with any consistent success. It again looked like Algieri was going to be stopped if things got worse but amazing he didn't panic, he didn't worry and more notably he didn't question himself. Instead Algieri gathered his thoughts and continued to box and move, making Provodnikov look stupid as he winged in some wild looking shots.
Surprisingly, given the start, we managed to reach the final bell. Although Algieri was looking like he had been in a car crash he had made his way through the 12 rounds. With the 10-7 opening round however it seemed hard to believe that Algieri had done enough to over-come the champion, especially considering the number of very competitive rounds that seemed likely to have just helped Provodnikov secure his first defence. Amazingly however the judges managed to see Algieri was the winner of a split decision with scores of 114-112 (twice) in his favour whilst one judge managed to see Provodnikov as the winner with a score of 117-109.
Despite the wide variance of the score cards it was a bout that really could have been that wide. It was a case of scoring what you liked and Algieri's work rate, clean accurate punching and effective movement probably did deserve the decision, however a case could be made for the power of Provodnikov being enough for him to claim the close and competitive rounds that could easily have helped him retain his title.
Although Provodnikov lost his belt in a close fight we're very unlikely to see a rematch. Provodnikov made it clear after the fight that he didn't want to fight fighters like Algieri, boxers, and would instead prefer to give fans action fights with fellow brawlers. Hopefully we'll see him in such a fight next time out and maybe battles with Lucas Matthysse, Marcos Maidana, Brandon Rios or even Yoshihiro Kamegai could be organised for a hot blooded winter brawl in a bout that could see both men gaining valuable exposure in a war.
As far Algieri he's going to be a difficult man to match and a difficult man to beat. With a tricky and busy style, a very likeable attitude, great heart and a fantastic personality he's got the potential to be a very good fighter to follow. He may not have a warriors mentality but he's made us fans with his performance tonight.
(Image courtesy of Star Boxing)
The first of two world title fights this weekend saw the WBA Light Welterweight title change hands as the previously unbeaten Russian Khabib Allakhverdiev (19-1, 9) was narrowly out pointed by unbeaten American Jessie Vargas (24-0, 9) in a very tough and very evenly fought contest.
Early on it did look like the title was changing hands with out any questions. The first 2 or 3 rounds were all Vargas, he was too quick for the Russian and his shots were taking an effect almost from the off with Khabib's right eye beginning to swell from the second round. It seemed like a matter of time before Khabib's eye would shut and Vargas would get his first stoppage since 2011.
Strangely from Vargas he then began to slow down and Khabib started to time the American making things very competitive, especially at the end of round 3. The following round saw Khabib possibly winning his first round as he moved up a gear as if to suggest he knew he was trailing on the cards.
After the well fought action of rounds 3 and 4, which could easily have gone either way, it seemed that Khabib then became a little apprehensive. He continued to start though for the first minute of the round he was being out-manoeuvred and at the end of the round a flurry from Vargas stole him the round.
Having had round 5 stolen from him Khabib then kick started round 6 with an assault from the off. It was clear round 6 was one of Khabib's better rounds but it was tough and Vargas's persistent movement and jab was making life hard for the champion who was only managing to have success in spurts. Those spurts were rare in round 7 as he became overly apprehensive and struggled to connect with much of note.
If round 7 had been bad for Khabib then round 8 was a nightmare as a clash of heads left the Russian was a horrible cut over his left eye. This cut threatened to force an early conclusion to the bout though remarkably Khabib's corner managed to control it excellently. The cut, which could easily have ended the fight, seemed to fuel Khabib who tried to turn the fight in to a war and at the end of round 8 we had some of the most exciting of the fight.
Khabib began round 9 as he had ended round 8, cut and knowing the fight could be over at any point. Unfortunately the cut was a giant bullseye and Vargas targeted it with straight shots for the first 90 seconds of the round. This caused the doctor to take a look before allowing the fight to go on. The inspection seemed to fire up Khabib who tried to steal the round and turn it in to a fight but Vargas was equal to it.
Knowing he was behind Khabib really put his foot on the gas in the later rounds and he appeared to do all he could to try and over-turn the clear hole he was in. This saw Khabib out working Vargas in the championship rounds as Vargas appeared to cruise a little bit. It was a risky strategy from Vargas considering many of the rounds had been highly competitive but it was one he probably got away with as he was fighting at home.
Unfortunately for Khabib the judges seemed to agree with the view that Vargas had they awarded him the decision with cards of 115-113, twice and 117-111. It was a bout that had been competitive enough in a number of rounds to have gone 8-4 either way, with that in mind we can't complain about the winner as it seemed likely a close bout was going to go the local fighter. We do however have an issue with the 117-111 scorecard, a 9-3 card, from Jerry Roth. There had been competitive rounds but their had also been clear rounds each way, the final 3 for example were Khabib's with arguments out there for a further 5, to not Khabib a single one of those close rounds is harsh.
For Khabib this is probably the end of his run in the top 10. It's a loss that will cost him not just in future earnings but also in hospital fees as he'll need some major work on the cuts he suffered. As for Vargas he looks like a poor champion and although he's well schooled and fast he seems like the sort of fighter who could lose at any point.
(Photo, courtesy of the WBA, shows Khabib with the WBA title prior to his loss)
In boxing there is the great adage of "Styles make Fights". This can often be used as a explanation as to why "triangle" theory doesn't work in boxing, but it can also be used to explain why a fight will be great or forgettable. For example two counters punchers tends to make for a some what dull fight whilst two warriors makes for a war.
When the men involved in a fight are fighters like Ruslan Provodnikov (23-2, 16) and Mike Alvarado (34-2, 23), the concept of styles make fights meant we were in for a good one. They are both warriors with heart and power, who whilst technically limited are always there for a fight.
The fighters mentality was obvious from the opening round as the two men engaged in a toe-to-toe battle. Alvarado had tried to fight off the back foot with his boxing skills though was quickly dragged into a war which seemed to suit the more powerful Russian who just sneaked the round despite being forced to take some monstrous shots in return.
Although the opening round was a fight it was obvious that Alvarado wasn't going to just willingly fight Provodnikov's fight. Instead of continuing to trade Alvarado boxed on the move, refusing to give the Russian time to set his feet and in rounds 2 and 3 it appeared that the much anticipated war was going to be less brutal than we had expected. Alvarado was willing to mix it up, but was trying hard to just box and pick his spots well.
Thankfully just as it seemed that Alvarado was going to box for 11 rounds we got a second round of fighting with the two men trading through out round 4. This saw Provodnikov having more success than he had in the previous two rounds. Though the round was close and could have gone either, it appeared that it was the style of fight more suited to the power and toughness of the Russian.
The close nature of round 4 was repeated in rounds 5 and 6 as we saw both Alvarado's movement ad Provodnikov's pressure both having their moments. All three rounds could have swung either way though the likely score at the 6 round mark was 57-57 with neither man deserving to actually be behind.
Unfortunately Alvarado had struggled to make weight and his movement was surely sapping his energy, which hadn't been helped with Provodnikov landing a number of hurtful body shots through the first half of the fight. It seemed likely that if either man was going to slow it was going to be Alvarado and that's what seemed to happen at the very end of round 7 as he was rocked almost on the bell. It had been a very close until Provodnikov rocked the American though it became the start of the end.
Neither man had been down through the first 7 rounds but Provodnikov changed that in round 8 as he took advantage of the fact Alvarado was slowing. Provodnikov landed bomb upstairs to seemed to hurt Alvarado early in the round then followed up with a body shot that sent the American into his shell. A follow up attack soon sent the American down for a 9 and almost saw the bout waved off. Alvarado never got close to recovering and was dropped again as Provodnikov looked for the finish. The heart of Alvarado was the only thing keeping him in the fight as he got up for a second time, though with a 10-7 round against him he was in a serious hole.
Alvarado's legs hadn't recovered by the start of round 9 and in fact he looked like a spent force. Unfortunately it also appeared that Provodnikov was running low on energy himself and fought a very restrained round 9, almost as if he was waiting for an opening rather than forcing one as he had in the previous round. It was certainly a round for the Russian but it looked like he may have lost his opportunity to force a stoppage.
With both men looking tired it seemed that we may, against all the odds, go the 12 rounds. Alvarado was doing a good job of moving and surviving and Provodnikov was doing enough to establish, or extend, a lead on the cards. Provodnikov however seemed to find the energy he needed late in round 10 to change all that as he launched a monster assault with Alvarado on the ropes. This attack seemed like it was going to send Alvarado down for a third time though some how the American remained upright.
At the end of round 10 it was a mystery as to how Alvarado was still standing, though he appeared to have no idea where he was walking to a neutral corner. Thankfully his corner made the right decision to pull him out of the fight before the start of round 11. A decision that may well have allowed Alvarado to return to the ring again as he seemed on the verge of a career ending beating if he was sent out for another round.
Although the fight wasn't quite a fight of the year contender, it was great through out. It combined brawling, fighting, boxing and heart, all the facets of a great fight. It also, for our sake, saw Provodnikov claiming the WBO Light Welterweight world title just a fight after losing a controversial decision to Timothy Bradley at Welterweight.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.