Ruslan Provodnikov Stumped by Tricky and Tough Chris Algieri in Stunning Loss
By Lyle Fitzsimmons - bleacherreport.com
Win, lose or draw, Ruslan Provodnikov knew the score on Saturday night.
“Runners are not my style,” he said to HBO’s Max Kellerman during the live TV broadcast. “I like guys who want to stand in there and fight me. He had the worst style for me. He just ran and touched me. He jabbed and touched me.
“Obviously, I have trouble with guys who fight me with that style.”
What had occurred over the previous 36 minutes of in-ring action at the Barclays Center was ample illustration of what the Siberian Rocky was lamenting about.
Aside from a first-round blitzkrieg in which the Russian decked challenger Chris Algieri with a thudding left hook, prompted him to take a knee to quash a followup flurry and made his eye look like an over-the-top piece of Hollywood studio ghastliness, he had few other answers for a foe who simply refused to join in the sort of phone-booth warfare that had made him a 15-month phenomenon.
Algieri entered the fray with 19 wins and eight knockouts over basically forgettable opposition, and it was hardly as if the leaning, herky-jerky tango he’d danced from Rounds 2 through 12 against Provodnikov—making the first defense of his WBO championship at 140 pounds—reinvented the sweet science as anyone either knows it or cares to acknowledge it.
What it lacked in sublime grace, though, it more than made up for in situational beauty.
Because Provodnikov’s “if I have to die in the ring to win, that is what I will do” reputation had been beaten into the puffy faces of world-class foes like Timothy Bradley and Mike Alvarado, it was a widely held assumption going into Saturday that a 5'10" beanpole with precisely zero significant victories would have none of the stuff required to dissuade such a grinding foe, let alone trouble him.
But it was evident as early as Round 2—the first of a series of rounds in which Algieri both threw and landed more shots—that the Long Islander had the mettle to go along with the awkwardness.
Though his eye had swollen to grotesque proportions, he was already beginning to execute a game plan that included nearly perpetual lateral movement and the sort of peppering punch output that was by no means concussive on an advancing Provodnikov but just irritating enough to throw off the locomotive momentum that had prompted a sturdy Alvarado to surrender eight months earlier.
And though it was barely noticeable amid the Kellerman/Jim Lampley hysteria at ringside for the first few rounds, by the time halfway point arrived no less an authority than guest analyst Andre Ward began to sense that Algieri’s tale was a combination of both high-end resilience and tactical genius.
Down the stretch, in fact, as unofficial scorer Steve Weisfeld insisted Provodnikov’s lead was insurmountable, Ward countered by saying he thought Algieri was authoring “a boxing clinic.”
And when the scorecards were read—two 114-112s in Algieri’s favor against one 117-109 for Provodnikov—it was apparent that strength in numbers had outdone strength in sentiment.
Even Kellerman conceded he may have scored a round or two in Provodnikov’s favor simply because of how Algieri’s face had looked and not because the Russian was performing any more effectively.
As for the winner and new champion, he said he’d known it all along.
“The shots I was getting hit with in the first four rounds they were big, but they were lunging shots. The only shot that hurt me was the first one,” he said. “I anticipated them. I saw them coming as he came forward. I know my eye probably looked like a nice juicy steak to him, and I could see in his eyes as he was about to throw the shots at me.”
Kellerman and Lampley kept blowing air into the flagging Provodnikov balloon after the interviews, saying the beaten favorite would be wise to pursue other big-fight options like Brandon Rios and Juan Manuel Marquez with the rationale that their higher-profile styles would be a better mesh than Algieri’s.
They’re probably correct, but while such a career strategy will mean Algieri’s reign could start off on a far lower profile than his win warrants, it seemed the furthest thing from his mind as he flung the WBO strap across his shoulder for the first time.
“I showed the boxing world who Chris Algieri is, but it’s funny I have not thought past this one day for months,” he said. “I don’t even know what June 15 is going to look like.”
Even through one open eye, the guess here is that it’ll be as pretty a day as he’s ever seen.
CHRIS ALGIERI SHOCKS RUSLAN PROVODNIKOV; RISES FROM EARLY KNOCKDOWNS TO WIN SPLIT DECISION
By Ben Thompson - fighthype.com
Moments ago at the Barclays Center in Brookly, New York, undefeated jr. welterweight Chris Algieri shocked former champion Ruslan Provodnikov, scoring a slit decision to capture the WBO jr. welterweight title. It looked like it might be an early night for Provodnikov after scoring two knockdowns in the first round, but Algieri was able to battle back with his superior boxing skills, giving the champion more problems than he and his trainer had anticipated.
Provodnikov was quick to cut off the ring and back Algieri up to the ropes. Although Algieri did his best to fight behind a rapid jab, Provodnikov simply walked through the punches until he landed a devastating left hook that floored the challenger. Algieri beat the count, but Provodnikov jumped on him again and quickly forced him to take a knee from the pressure. The right eye of Algieri began swelling badly and Provodnikov looked like he smelled blood.
Algieri started to let his hands go in the second round, doing a better job of boxing and moving, but Provodnikov continued to back him up to the ropes looking to land more big hooks. As the rounds continued, however, it looked like Algieri was getting more and more comfortable utilizing his superior boxing skills, despite the fact that he didn't possess the power to make Provodnikov respect his punches.
By the middle rounds, Algieri appeared to have gotten himself back into the fight as he continued to pepper Provodnikov with jabs, boxing in circles and landing good combinations. Regardless, Provodnikov continued to press forward landing thudding shots. Entering the championship rounds, Algieri may have been down on the scorecards thanks to the early knockdowns, but that didn't stop Provodnikov's trainer, Freddie Roach, from telling him they needed a knockout to seal the deal.
Despite a badly swollen eye that looked like it was nearly shut, Algieri continued to outbox the champion in the final two rounds. The body language of Provodnikov in the corner was that of a fighter who knew he had been in a more difficult fight than expected. In the end, the judges scored the bout 117-109 (Provodnikov), 114-112 (Algieri), and 114-112 (Algieri), giving the split decision victory to Algieri.
Long Island’s Chris Algieri defeats Russian Ruslan Provodnikov with split decision at Barclays Center
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Provodnikov was initially disappointed when the bout with Algieri was first announced in April, since he had hoped to make his first defense of his title against some of the titans of the sport, such as Juan Manuel Marquez after he emerged last year with wars against Tim Bradley and Mike Alvarado.
The boxer with the impressive educational background and good looks won a controversial split decision against the fighter who used to sniff glue as a youngster and continues to snack on raw moose liver.
Ruslan Provodnikov, a rugged, human buzz-saw who grew up amid poverty in Siberia, Russia, stealing to put food in his mouth, appeared to get the better of Chris Algieri of Huntington, LI, knocking him down twice in the first round and closing his right eye. (Algieri admitted he was blind in the right eye by the time the 12th round rolled around.) But the judges didn't see it that way, awarding Algieri a surprising split decision by scores of 114-112, 114-112 and 109-117 to wrest away Provodnikov's WBO junior welterweight title Saturday before an announced crowd of 6,218 in a bout in which Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov used his influence and deep pockets to bring his Russian comrade to Barclays Center in Brooklyn after it was initially scheduled for the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, LI only to see him lose.
"I congratulate Chris Algieri and I have nothing more to say," Provodnikov said in the ring afterward.
Algieri, who has a Master's degree in clinical nutrition and holds designs of one day possibly attending medical school, showed plenty of heart, surviving the initial frame and landing a stiff jab and occasional right hand and likely wrecking Provodnikov's plans to face Manny Pacquiao in the fall.
"It was a great fight," Algieri said in the ring afterward. "The shots in the first round were the most powerful but they were few and far between. I could see well until round eight and by the time we saw round 12, I was blind in that eye. But I was able to anticipate his left hook throughout the fight. I showed the boxing world who Chris Algieri is."
Provodnikov was initially disappointed when the bout against Algieri was first announced in April, since he had hoped to make his first defense of his title against some of the titans of the sport, such as Juan Manuel Marquez after he emerged last year with wars against Tim Bradley and Mike Alvarado.
And though he was seemingly dominant against Algieri on Saturday, Provodnikov also showed his limitations; a weak defense and susceptibility to get hit. Algieri was able to land on Provodnikov repeatedly even as he fought off the ropes. It wasn't Provodnikov's sharpest performance, but he may have suffered from an inability to get up for an opponent virtually unknown outside of his hometown of Huntington, LI. But Algieri did his backyard proud, showing he can hang with a world class fighter.
Provodnikov put Algieri down twice in the first round in an ambush reminiscent of Miguel Cotto's assault of Sergio Martinez last Saturday at the Garden. The first knockdown came via a heavy left hook that nearly shut the right eye of Algieri and drove him hard to the canvas. He rose blinking his right eye and seemed okay but moments later he went down again from an accumulation of punches. Algieri did better in the third round, landing a straight right hand toward the end of the frame that left a red streak on Provodnikov's cheek but Algieri was now bleeding from his nose as well.
Between the third and fourth round, the ringside doctor checked Algiri's right eye, which was nearly shut, in the corner to see if he should continue. He gave a thumbs up to the referee to allow the bout to carry on. Algieri continued to box well in the fifth, flicking his jab and landing a nice uppercut but he absorbed a wicked left hook to the right eye, which was shut and completely covered in blood as the round ended. Algieri continued to show guts by boxing well in the ninth and tenth rounds with Provodnikov stalking him around the ring.
Chris Algieri shocks Provodnikov
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com
NEW YORK -- Chris Algieri, his right eye a swollen, closed mess, did not look like a winner when the fight was over. But that was superficial. He had won a world title.
Algieri pulled a major upset as he outboxed Ruslan Provodnikov to win a split decision and a junior welterweight belt on Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
With most of the 6,218 fans cheering on Long Island's Algieri, he survived two knockdowns in the first round to prevail in a fight that many also saw for the relentlessly aggressive Provodnikov.
In the end, two judges scored the bout 114-112 for Algieri, while the third scored it for Provodnikov, 117-109. ESPN.com had it for the heavier-hitting Provodnikov, 115-111.
Before Provodnikov made his first title defense he had promised to "chase him and hunt him down. I am the hunter when I am in the ring."
That is exactly what the "Siberian Rocky" tried to do, and it looked like he might make it a quick night.
Algieri, from nearby Huntington, New York, had the crowd chanting for him right away in the first round, but Provodnikov shut them up quickly, leveling him with a hard left hook. Moments later, Algieri went down for the second time under furious pressure, including a left uppercut that sent him to a knee.
Provodnikov continued to stalk him, and Algieri, who is not much of a puncher, could not keep him off. Even when he landed a clean right hand to Provodnikov's cheek in the final seconds of the second round, Provodnikov did not budge.
But Algieri, 30, never panicked and slowly got himself back into the fight as he boxed, moved and used a solid jab to keep Provodnikov at bay.
"It was a great fight. The big thing was getting out of the first round to start with," said Algieri, who was facing by far his most notable opponent. "He hit me with a pretty good shot. I took a knee the second time because my lip was numb, I wanted to clear my head and see how my eye was. It wasn't anything he hit me with.
"The shots in the first round were the most powerful but they were few and far between."
Provodnikov (23-3, 16 KOs) continued to chase Algieri (20-0, 8 KOs) around the ring -- and he was landing -- as Algieri's right eye was turning black and blue and swelling in the third round. And Algieri is tough and hung in there, moving and boxing. But Algieri was also paying a heavy physical toll as he ate so many left hooks and right hands from Provodnikov.
Provodnikov landed hard left hooks in the seventh round, shots Algieri did not see coming because his eye was basically swollen closed.
Algieri, despite the damage, never wavered. Although Provodnikov's punches were clearly harder, the two judges preferred Algieri's boxing style and his punch output, especially over the final quarter of the fight.
Algieri landed 288 of 993 punches (29 percent) while Provodnikov connected on 205 of 776 (26 percent), according to CompuBox statistics.
Algieri said the eye, as bad as it looked, did not become a serious problem for his vision until the last few rounds.
"I could see pretty well until the eighth round but by the time we hit round 12, I was blind in that eye," Algieri said. "But I was able to anticipate his left hook throughout the fight. I was able to figure out his rhythm. That was the key to my success."
Provodnikov, one of boxing's most exciting fighters, is a straight ahead brawler. It was that style that helped him be involved in the 2013 fight of the year, a close decision loss to then-welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley, and also in his title victory, a 10th-round knockout of Mike Alvarado in October in Alvarado's hometown of Denver.
But while Bradley and Alvarado stood and traded with him, that is not Algieri's game. If there was one way for Algieri to win it would be to outbox Provodnikov, who lamented that style.
"I felt like after the knockdown I was trying to land the big punch," Provodnikov said through a translator. "I have to admit, runners are not my style. I said before it's just not my style. He just ran and touched me. He just jabbed and touched me.
"This is the worst style for me. I like guys who are in front of me and fighting me."
Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach thought Provodnikov might be in some trouble and implored him to go for the knockout late in the fight. But it was not to be, saddling Roach with a big loss just one week after another one of his fighters, Miguel Cotto, upset Sergio Martinez to win the middleweight world championship at Madison Square Garden.
Banner Promotions' Artie Pelullo, Provodnikov's promoter, was disappointed with the decision but said he could see why it went to Algieri.
"I thought it was a close fight and the decision went to Chris Algieri," he said. "I have no complaints. I thought we won the fight but I could see Chris getting the win."
Provodnikov, 30, who earned a career-high $750,000, stuck to his promise to pursue Algieri and he made it an exciting fight, for which he was proud.
"I gave a very exciting fight and I think the fans were not sleeping in their seats," he said. "I did what I promised."
Algieri, who made a career-best $100,000, also did what he had promised -- to use his skills to outbox a rugged opponent. He is a college graduate and also earned a master's degree. After boxing he has aspirations of going to medical school.
But after the upset he pulled to win a 140-pound world title, it looks as though his education is going to have to wait a bit longer.
"I showed the boxing world who Chris Algieri is," he said.
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