The most legendary fights in boxing are the ones in which fighters are pushed beyond what any human can reasonably be expected to endure, yet they do. Saturday night was one such occasion. Ruslan Provodnikov, known as the “Siberian Rocky”, has engaged in two fights that many consider being fight of the year quality bouts, one against Mike Alvarado and the other against Timothy Bradley. Fights like this have given Provodnikov a reputation for going to war as hard as any fighter in boxing.
Well, call this fight “Siberian Rocky III”, because Matthysse-Provodnikov was a gut wrenching thriller, but in a far different way than his previous two fights. Ruslan Provodnikov was outgunned from the opening bell by a very determined, sharp and skilled Lucas Matthysse. He took shots that would have sent almost any other fighter in the 140 pound weight class to the canvas multiple times, and took them without ever once being seriously dazed. Despite being out landed by over 100 punches, Provodnikov pressed the action from round 1 to round 12, even as he was being consistently outworked by his faster, more skilled opponent. The mental toughness required to commit to such a brutal strategy against a man who is making you pay for every risk you take cannot be understated in an era where fighters often look for a way out when things are not going well.
Ruslan Provodnikov could have sucummbed to the superior pressure of Lucas Matthysse in the same fashion that Mike Alvarado surrendered on his stool to Provodnikov, but there was never one hint from him or his corner that they would allow that to happen. In true warrior fashion, Provodnikov finished the fight on his feet and even won the last two rounds on all three scorecards. As you can infer from my analysis, I did not score this fight as closely as Harold Lederman or any of the three official judges, who gave Matthysse a very close majority decision victory, with one judge scoring it 114-114, overruled by two 115-113 cards for Matthysse. When I watched the fight live I scored it 118-110 for Matthyse, giving Provodnikov the 4th and 11th rounds and not much else. At home when I saw the TV replay I scored it 117-111, giving Provodnikov the 4th, 11th and 12th rounds. Scoring aside, the story of the night was the ability of the Siberian Rocky to absorb massive amounts of punishment, a quality that has created fan favorites in the boxing community ever since the sports creation. Provodnikov may have lost the fight, but he should have no trouble landing another big fight, as the heart he displayed increased his stock far more than the loss harmed it. Like Arturo Gatti, Mickey Ward and many great sluggers before him, Provodnikov’s major value is not in winning or losing, it is in the hellacious style in which he fights.
Article by Rocco Lucente