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.