The Miraculous Almost Happened for the ‘Russian Rocky’
- Updated: March 22, 2013
If only there were 15 additional seconds added to a professional prizefight, 10, 5 even, then on Saturday night Ruslan Provodnikov may very well have still been celebrating with the WBO welterweight title around his waist as a symbol of a lifetime accomplishment coming to fruition inside the squared circle.
Provodnikov was close, oh so close, to reaching that climactic goal of every man, (or woman) that braves the early morning chill of a morning run, watches what they eat with a passion and sacrifices the normalcy’s of regular civilian life. Day by day, they strive to become better, to slip and fade faster and to punch harder. Sweat and tears drench through their attire to their core, and the heart of a fighter is always brought up and tested when things get rough in the ring. So they mentally prepare and dig deep in preparation, knowing that at any point in a contest, they may be called upon to rise up from being knocked down, which is undoubtedly a physical motion, but the desire to continue fighting once you are back on your feet, well, that takes heart, my friends.
In this particular contest, one not expected to be the firefight and early Fight of the Year candidate for 2013 that it became, Provodnikov fought at a higher weight, against the white hot, pressure-filled lights of the HBO cameras, against an opponent never before defeated in a professional contest and for the first time, a trinket that only select fighters ever get to grace during their pugilistic career.
The ‘Russian Rocky’ had taken it to the champion from the outset, felling him in the first frame and time after time, leading the contest with constant pressure and ‘rocking’ Timothy Bradley many times. Provodnikov sought to show the champion he was unfazed by the offense thrown back at him and bravely fought through a busted up eye to make a late charge in the final frame that almost saw him belted with a major title.
Provodnikov had paid the price in order to achieve his career dream, not shying away from a weight difference that he had only fought at a few times early in his career and a few in-between, and get this: Provodnikov didn’t even ask how much his purse was going to be before he said yes to fight Bradley. The Russian knew that he was fighting for more than just currency; he was aiming for glory, and almost got to boxing’s promise land. Rare is the fighter who thinks first of the glory that can be reached as opposed to the monetary winnings; Provodnikov is one of those rare fighters.
To Provodnikov, the purse wasn’t as important as the prize; the prize that all fighters push themselves to the limit for and hope to attain one day. Boxers don headgear and exchange blows in mock fights that are un-televised for a viewing audience to see, perform endless, endless calisthenics, hit heavy bags, weight drain themselves and give their whole anatomy up to the sport which is not played like the major sports of our time; boxing is lived.
All respect was given to Provodnikov as word came that the emotions of not getting the decision weighed heavy on the fighter in his dressing room immediately following the fight. Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach provided his fighter with an out.
”I’m just really proud of my guy right now,”
”He’s crying in the dressing room. I told him, ‘Go ahead, cry. At least you care.’ I think he made himself a star in America and Russia tonight. People like fights like that. I know I do.”
Provodnikov had left his home country, crawled and scratched his way up from club fighter, to ESPN favorite to HBO main event title bout in a mere 24 fights and still finds himself in a position to contend for a title in both the 147 and 140 pound divisions.
Although emotions came to a height following the decision last Saturday, it could be argued that Provodnikov prevailed and succeeded just as much as he would have had he gotten the decision.
While that may be unimaginable right now, just wait and see what else the Russian Rocky is going to do in the sport later in 2013 and in the following years to come.