Small Town Impossibility

By Wrigley Brogan on June 2, 2018
Small Town Impossibility
The world is filled with imitation experts; should boxing be any different? (Wrigley Brogan)

Torres entered the ring to the shouts of his fans. Provodnikov was a dark glowing coal ready to burst into flame…

Unfortunately all the heart in the world cannot make up for poor sparring. Young boxers in small towns the world over might rise higher in the game with quality sparring and decent trainers. Unfortunately knowledgeable trainers, not the general boxing population who call themselves trainers, people who once saw a fight on television, are scarce. Or failed boxers who decide to become trainers and pass along all their bad habits. Listen to the trainers during a television fight as they give advice to their boxers. You will often hear things like “You’ve got to go out there and win”—“avoid that left hand,” “you have to knock him out this round,” etc. That is not advice. Advice is when a trainer tells a fighter something specific about how to win, how to avoid the left hand, how to knock out his opponent etc., the kind of advice Freddie Roach gives.

Many trainers are not unlike the general population who complain about all the problems in the world, but never offer solutions. The world is filled with imitation experts; why should boxing be any different?

Poor sparring partners are another hindrance to boxing success. Nowhere is there more evidence of this problem than in small towns. Finding someone to spar is seldom a problem. Many club fighters are willing to spar for free just for the workout. If they mix it up with a man on the rise, so much the better for them. The boxer on the rise, however, seldom benefits. He might as well be punching the heavy bag.

David Torres, a quiet, polite, decent fighter from the northwest, suffered from the problems of poor sparring. He was slick, determined, and tough. Unfortunately he was from Othello, Washington.

Othello is a pretty little town of 8,000 in the Columbia Basin in Eastern Washington. Two grocery stores and ten restaurants grace the city limits. There is a great little Mexican restaurant on the western side of town where English is seldom spoken and local farmers and farm hands sit over steaming cups of coffee and spicy, flavorful, authentic ethnic food. Of course there is a small boxing gym, almost mandatory in a community with a large Mexican population who believes that boxing is saintly and an essential passage to manhood.

The small number of boxers work out to KRSC AM and KZLN FM radio. Torres built his skills here. He was known as an honest young man and dedicated to the sport. Photographer Mike Blair claimed he was one of the only boxers who ever paid him cash for pictures, rather than “I’ll send you a check.”

When a promising boxer lives in a small town his venues for fights are often limited. The Emerald Queen Casino, in Tacoma, Washington, hosted 21 of his eventual 26 fights. Torres wanted to fight and he wanted to fight often. When the offer came to fight Ruslan Provodnikov came, he did not hesitate. Torres did not lack for confidence or heart.

Provodnikov was an absolute animal. What he lacked in boxing skill, which was a lot, he made up for in ferocity. There was no quit in him and he was born without a reverse gear. “All for the front” was his motto. He had already faced Demarcus Corley, Mauricio Herrera, and Ivan Popoca. The toughest opponents Torres had faced were Santos Pakau and Julio Diaz.

The fight occurred at the Northern Quest Casino in Airway Heights, Washington. Torres entered the ring to the shouts of his fans. Provodnikov was a dark glowing coal ready to burst into flame.

Torres started well but his major flaw was quickly revealed. Torres could never avoid a right hand. Whenever he threw a left he brought it back low, an amateur mistake that might have been avoided with a proper sparring opponent. A decent sparring partner with a good right hand would have nailed him enough times for him to catch on. Telling a boxer his mistakes and trying to make a correction seldom works. If he drops his hands he needs to be punched. Only then will he remember to keep his hands up.

The fight managed to go half the distance. Torres was dropped several times with rights. He always struggled to get up. Another right ended his career. At this stage in his development what he needed was a decent sparring partner. He might have continued a decent career. Provodnikov was no sparring partner.

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Ruslan Provodnikov vs. David Torres

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  1. Ollie Downtown Brown 06:16am, 06/04/2018

    The West Coast has produced some great ones though, probably a guy that is consistently underrated when it comes to all time middleweight champs, “The Tacoma Assassin,” Freddie Steele. What an amazing record Steele compiled during his career at 123-5-11. And “Mutt” Greg Haugen was one of my favorite fighters back in the day. No disrespect to the Emerald City and the rest of the Pacific Northwest,  but I always think of it as the home of serial killers. That particular area despite being only a fraction of the population of California seems to give the Golden State a run for its money in producing serial killers. Must be all that rain out there, not enough sunshine and vitamin D does cause depression and what not.

  2. Kid Blast 02:42pm, 06/02/2018

    Well done. Enjoyable read. Thank you.

  3. Ollie Downtown Brown 10:47am, 06/02/2018

    Perhaps the Northwest in general doesn’t offer the type of sparring some fighter would receive on the East Coast. For years, with the exception of southern California and their huge pool of talented smaller Mexican fighters, a West Coast fighter was often seen as the American equivalent of the British fighter. It was thought that once the West Coast fighter ventured to the East Coast to fight a “real” contender that he would be sent packing.  Guys like a Harry Matthews, Mac Foster, or a Boone Kirkman would make their name out on the West Coast only to come east and be exposed as a notch below East Coast fighters. Remember reading a book as a kid about a Seattle middleweight named, Fraser Scott, “Weigh In: The Selling Of A Middleweight,” pretty decent book. I guess Scott made somewhat of a name for himself out on the West Coast and Washington state by beating people like Denny Moyer. However, later on he was DQed in a title bout with Nino Benvenuti and quickly dispatched by Carlos Monzon.

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