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Provodnikov vs. Algieri: Russia’s toughest fighter comes to New York

Photo: Chris Farina / Top Rank

Photo: Chris Farina / Top Rank

On Saturday, June 14th, HBO Boxing After Dark will televise the WBO Junior Welterweight clash between Freddie Roaches’ pupil, “The Siberian Rocky” Ruslan Provodnikov (23-2, 16 KO’s), and Long Island, NY native Chris Algieri (19-0, 8 KO’s) in Algieri’s own backyard. The Barclay Center in Brooklyn, NY will serve as the backdrop for this showdown, and both fighters appear to be poised and ready to claim victory at an arena that is beginning to emerge as a high-profile venue in the world of professional prize fighting.

Ruslan Provodnikov emerged last year as an exciting and fan-friendly fighter who has been able to put incredible amounts of pressure on world class fighters, such as Timothy Bradley. However, Provodnikov’s roots as a professional prize fighter are somewhat more humble. Fighting several times on ESPN 2’s Friday Night Fights at the beginning of his career, Provodnikov quickly developed a reputation for being a dangerous albeit one-dimensional boxer. After a victory over Demarcus Corley, and a questionable loss to Mauricio Herrera, Provodnikov’s manager, Vadim Kornilov, brought the pugilist to Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym so that he might not only progress under the Hall of Fame trainer’s guidance, but also to serve as Manny Pacquiao’s sparring partner as well. Under Roach’s supervision, Provodnikov began to tap into his full potential, and scored knockout victories over David Torres in January of 2012, and Jose Reynoso in June of that same year.

By this point, Provodnikov was ready for bigger and tougher challenges, and agreed to a bout against Timothy Bradley on March 16th, 2013 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA for Bradley’s WBO Welterweight Championship. Bradley, who had just won a controversial decision over Manny Pacquiao, was looking for a fight against an opponent who would provide him with an easy target, and make Bradley look great in the process. However, the fight itself did not go as planned for Bradley. In what is widely regarded as 2013’s fight of the year, Bradley survived both an early and late onslaught by the Russian to hang on to a victory by dominating the middle rounds. In the twelfth and final round, Provodnikov had damaged the champion so bad that he was forced to take a knee with only seconds remaining. And while Bradley may have won the fight, Provodnikov had proven to the masses that he was capable of competing at the elite level of the sport.

Ruslan Provodnikov vs Timothy Bradley 03 16 2013 5After the Bradley fight, Provodnikov stepped back into the ring on October 19th, 2013 against Mike Alvarado in Alvarado’s hometown of Denver, CO for the WBO Junior Welterweight Championship. But despite the perceived hometown advantage for Alvarado, Provodnikov was able to knock down the hometown favorite twice in the eighth round, and go on to claim victory by a tenth round stoppage when Alvarado elected to not come out for the eleventh round. And now, Provodnikov will again journey into the backyard of his opponent when he meets Chris Algieri at the Barclays Center on June 14th.

Chris Algieri’s road to June 14th might not have been as notable as Ruslan Provodnikov’s, but the 30-year old Algieri plans on making a statement when he steps into the ring in Brooklyn on fight night.

The Argentine-American light welterweight is a former ISKA World Welterweight and WKA World Super Welterweight kickboxing champion. Compiling a record of 20-11 as a kickboxer, Algieri decided to retire and try his hand at professional boxing. In addition, He also has a bachelor’s degree in healthcare science from Stony Brook University and a master’s degree from the New York Institute of Technology.

Algieri’s most high-profile win to date was a unanimous ten round decision over Emmanuel Taylor in February of this year at the Paramount Theatre in Long Island, New York. With that victory under his belt, Algieri entered the world rankings. Additionally, victories over Jose Alejo and former USBA champion Mike Arnaoutis have elevated Algieri’s status over the past 18 months, and now Algieri will take a significant step up in class when he challenges Roach’s pupil in Brooklyn.

When asked about the fight at a press conference, Algieri gave reporters a glimpse into what his mindset will be on June 14th. “There’s no doubt that I’m not going to have to fight. This is a boxing match. Ruslan’s going to put the pressure and he’s going to be in front of me. But, at the same time even though I’m deemed the boxer and he is the puncher, once we’re inside, I can still punch. I’m still going to be in there, still being able to throw and use my skills on the inside.”

Alvarado_Provodnikov_131019_001aProvodnikov mindset, on the other hand, plans to apply a more aggressive game plan that will allow him to utilize the pressure-friendly style that fans know and love him for. “All my career I’ve had to fight guys that were taller than me and had longer arms. And all I’ve had to do is try to get to them and try to pressure them. It’s no secret what my plan is. Of course I’m going to pressure him. We know what he is going to do. I mean they all try to box me and they all try to move and jab. I can break him down from a distance, from up close, and from anywhere. But the question is always how much and how long can he jab?”

And of course, a press conference wouldn’t be complete without a quote or two from Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach. “We definitely have to pressure him and cut off the ring off and control the ring. And Chris is a very good boxer with long arms. And we have to break him down and get inside early, set traps and we need to really control the ring. And that’s what we’ve been working on quite a bit. Ruslan’s getting very good at controlling the ring and keeping himself in the best spot. So, I think that’s the big key to the fight is who’s going to control the ring.”

In addition to the main event, HBO’s card on June 14th will kick off with a WBO Junior Middleweight title bout between undefeated Demetrious Andrade (20-0, 13 KO’s) and mandatory challenger Brian Rose (25-1-1, 7 KO’s). The telecast will begin at 10:00 p.m. EST, and is being promoted by Banner Promotions and Top Rank, in association with Star Boxing.

On paper, this fight should be an easy win for Provodnikov. The Russian has faced the higher level opposition, has a better trainer in Freddie Roach, and is generally regarded as the tougher of the two pugilists. The irony of this perception is that Provodnikov became a star in his own right last year by being placed in a fight that was designed to make his opponent look good. However, Provodnikov proved that night that he was no pushover, and took the world class Timothy Bradley to his absolute limits. And now, Provodnikov finds himself on the other end of this equation. Many consider Algieri to be no more than a bulls-eye for Provodnikov to showcase his aggressive style against. However, fighting in your hometown can provide an invaluable psychological advantage, and both Provodnikov and Roach might find June 14TH to be a far more difficult night than either of them anticipated. But if everything goes as planned, a TKO in the seventh or eighth round for Provodnikov seems like a safe bet in a tougher than expected bout.

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