Fear at 140

By Caryn A. Tate on August 13, 2014
Fear at 140
Fearsome, Provodnikov possesses a pressure style with a seeming inability to back down.

“So many people are saying negative things about me being exposed and all that, now I want to [continue] boxing and prove everybody wrong…”

Ruslan Provodnikov, aka “The Siberian Rocky” (23-3, 17 KOs), is a light welterweight who is unquestionably one of the most, if not the most, avoided fighters in that division. It seems as though other pugilists in that weight class not only avoid getting into the ring with him, but avoid the mere mention of his name, like children afraid to speak the name of the Boogeyman. Fearsome, he possesses a pressure style with a seeming inability to back down and zero fear or intimidation. The fighter himself, like his nickname, is straightforward but extremely effective.

Hailing from Beryozovo, Siberia, Ruslan was a poor kid who grew up striving to become more successful than the confines of his village must typically allow. The sport of boxing has always attracted athletes like Provodnikov, who are required to have a fighting heart and superhuman determination and grit in order to even rise to the professional boxing level, much less that of becoming a world champion. He had a poor childhood; he stated at his media workout in preparation for his most recent fight against Chris Algieri that, “I know suffering. I grew up in it.”

Relatively early in his career, Provodnikov was a semi-regular on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights; but he gained a huge fan following in the United States and became a sensation when he fought Timothy Bradley on HBO in a Fight of the Year on March 16, 2013. Though Bradley won the unanimous decision, Provodnikov fought a tremendous battle, luring his opponent into a slugfest that ran counter to Bradley’s usual fighting style, and helped create a truly dynamic, close, and exhilarating bout that will be remembered for years.

Then, in October 2013, Provodnikov got his next title shot against WBO light welterweight champion Mike Alvarado in Alvarado’s hometown of Denver, Colorado. Alvarado had his moments and won a couple of rounds, but all in all Provodnikov whittled him down to an impressive tenth round TKO. Ruslan was finally a world champion.

On June 14 of this year, Ruslan entered the ring not only as champion but also the heavy favorite against the largely untested Chris Algieri. In round 1, Provodnikov knocked Algieri down with a thundering blow that resulted in immediate swelling and bruising to Algieri’s right eye; most likely the majority of viewers felt sure that this bout would, indeed, end in a KO for the Russian fighter. Later in the same round, Algieri took a knee.

But what followed was a twelve-round demonstration of the age-old dance between a puncher and a boxer. Algieri boxed and kept Provodnikov on the outside for the majority of the fight, landing shots but constantly moving. Ruslan played the role of stalker, landing some hard shots but seemingly not seriously hurting Algieri for the remainder of the fight. Algieri won a close split decision that night, lifting the WBO belt from Provodnikov. There were outcries from some, who claimed Provodnikov landed the much harder shots and should have won; but there were those who felt Algieri had outboxed Provodnikov and deserved the win. Algieri has since signed papers to fight Manny Pacquiao in November of this year, so where that leaves Provodnikov remains to be seen.

Recently I was able to catch up with Ruslan and discuss recent events and fights, as well as his future plans.

                                                            * * *

What is it about your personal experiences in life that you think make you the fighter you are today? And do you feel that if you hadn’t had those experiences, you may not have the same hunger and drive that you do now?

I definitely think that all of my life experiences made me who I am as a person as well as a fighter. I don’t think I would be the same if I didn’t grow up the way I did. 

Why do you think Juan Manuel Marquez turned down a fight with you, yet went on to fight Mike Alvarado, whom you beat in October 2013? What happened from your perspective?

I think it was the better business decision for him. But my fight with Marquez could have been a pay-per-view fight for Juan, and he didn’t want to even consider it, so he was definitely avoiding the tougher fight. Alvarado dropped him and I think I would have had more [success] in the fight than Alvarado.

Regarding your fight with Chris Algieri, have you rewatched the fight? Did you still feel that you won the fight? If you scored the rounds, how did you score it?

I rewatched the fight, I [thought] it was a close fight but I definitely don’t think Algieri did enough to take the title. His hometown judges helped him take the title from me, and only his hometown fans treat him as a champion, in my opinion not too many people accept Algieri as a champion.

Now that you’ve rewatched the fight, do you understand how some people could feel Algieri won?

Of course, I completely understand, but this is not amateur boxing, the punch stats showed the same amount of punches landed by me and him, but my punches are much more powerful and professional boxing is about hurting and not about touching like in the amateurs, the judges know that but sometimes they like to use amateur style scoring to help the local guy. In the professional rules there is actually a rule that one power punch can count up to three times as much as a jab, and judges should know that…

Do you want the rematch with Algieri that was in the contract?

Any time, if HBO and the fans want the rematch I’m ready to show the world that he is not a real champion and he will be on the floor again and again.

If you do get the rematch with Algieri, what will you do differently to ensure a win?

Different mindset, I let the fight go because I get discouraged by having to [run] after somebody round after round, it just gets boring for me, I came to fight, not to chase. But it’s his style and I respect it, he did well in what he could do, next time I will finish the fight when I hurt him…

Who do you most want to fight next (aside from a possible Algieri rematch)? Let’s ignore the politics of boxing for the moment. Who do you really want to fight and why? (As an aside, I have long been wanting to see you fight Lucas Matthysse!)

My [top] choices are Juan Manuel Marquez, Marcos Maidana, Lucas Matthysse, Brandon Rios, and Timothy Bradley! These are the fights that excite me because I know they will be exciting for the network and the fans, that’s if we ignore the politics of boxing.

What are your ultimate goals for your boxing career? How much longer do you want to be boxing?

Right now everything has changed in my mind after this fight, so many people are saying negative things about me being exposed and all that, now I want to [continue] boxing and prove everybody wrong. I can’t wait to get back into training camp again.

Once you have retired from boxing, what do you plan to do?

Possibly once I retire I will be going into politics to help and give back to my people in Russia, but that’s later.

Follow Caryn A. Tate on Twitter@carynatate

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Classic Boxing: Bradley vs. Provodnikov 2013 (HBO Boxing)

Provodnikov vs. Algieri: HBO Boxing After Dark Highlights

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  1. Caryn A. Tate 04:49pm, 08/15/2014

    Thanks everyone for the positive comments! I totally agree that Provodnikov is an awesome fighter, and that he was nowhere near “exposed” in the Algieri fight. I expressed as much to him after this interview & I hope he knows that’s true. He’s such an exciting fighter, and has such a pure spirit as a person. Can’t wait to see him in his future fights!

  2. Clarence George 02:47pm, 08/15/2014

    I, too, saw that program, Beaujack.  Entertaining, yes, but the Discovery Channel is notorious for its “mockumentaries,” where they combine fact with speculation, if not outright fiction.  As far as I know, the diary entry you mention is not factual.  A pity all this embellishment, because the last thing the Dyatlov mystery needs is gussying up.

  3. beaujack 01:11pm, 08/15/2014

    Clarence, yes I read your interesting article on this mystery. The plot is thickening. I recall that in the tv program on the Dyatlov expedition several weeks ago, a comment from one of the victims purported to have written before his death, “the yeti or snowman exists”. He wrote this before his death…Is this correct ?

  4. Steven 11:59am, 08/14/2014

    Provo was not exposed. He whupped Bradley fair and square and got screwed. Beat Algieri as well. IF Rios mans up he will end Rios career. The boxing public is ignorant at large and too quick to label and call names when the majority has never even broken a sweat. Thank these guys instead of belittling them.

  5. Pete The Sneak 06:39am, 08/14/2014

    Provo…one of my favorite fighters today.  A hard charging, lunch pail carrying, crowd pleasing, brutally honest, come to fight type of boxer…Don’t know why anyone would be saying negative things about him. Did Algieri out point him? Perhaps by a smidgen, depending on how you were scoring the fight, but so what? Who would you rather see face one of those names from that impressive list that Provo rolled out as opponents he would like to take on? Algieri or Provo?...I thought so… The Dyatlov Mystery notwithstanding…. Nice interview Caryn…Peace.

  6. Clarence George 04:10am, 08/14/2014

    Definitely not a hoax, Beaujack.  Those nine people died under terrible and mysterious circumstances, and no theory (mundane or outlandish) provides a satisfactory answer.  I very much enjoy a mystery’s challenge, but I’m completely stumped by this one.  I’m currently reading Keith McCloskey’s book on the subject, “Mountain of the Dead,” and the episode is even more bizarre and flummoxing than my initial research led me to think.

    Caryn is to be lauded for another impressive interview, but perhaps a Dyatlov follow-up might be in order.

    In the meantime, did you read my Provodnikov-Dyatlov article?  If not, permit me:


  7. beaujack 08:05pm, 08/13/2014

    Clarence, what is your take on the tragic Dyatlov expedition mystery ?
    Big Foot or big hoax ?

  8. Darrell 06:54pm, 08/13/2014

    I thought Provo won against Algieri.

    It seemed to me that Algieri didn’t really mount enough effective offense to warrant the decision.  Provo kept tagging him fairly regularly throughout…...and missing a lot too to be fair, with made it look ugly for him.

    Hope he gets to fight Marquez or Matthysse…..they’d be good fights.

  9. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 04:04pm, 08/13/2014

    Roach should have seen that decision coming and should have been on Ruslan as early as the second round instead of waiting until the eleventh round to push Ruslan to close the show because it was too close for comfort. Having said that the fight should have been stopped due to the serious nature of Chris’ eye injury and Ruslan would have had his deserved TKO win. Has anyone noticed that Ruslan is an intelligent, sensitive guy….why does the boxing establishment here keep screwing over him?

  10. Axel Grefberg 01:58pm, 08/13/2014

    awesome fighter!

  11. Clarence George 12:25pm, 08/13/2014

    You didn’t ask him about the Dyatlov mystery?  Sigh.

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