SAN DIEGO, June 15, 2014 – After a knockdown two minutes into the first round, and a second knockdown before the round was over, few fans expected Chris Algieri to last more than another round or two against Ruslan Provodnikov Saturday at the Barclays Center.
Not only did Algieri finish the 12-round fight, he impressed the fans and two of the three judges, winning a split decision no one saw coming over Provodnikov (23-3, 16 KOs) to become the WBO junior welterweight champion and remain undefeated (20-0, 8 KOs).
Judges Don Trella and Tom Schreck both scored it 114-112 for Algieri, with Max Deluca scoring it 117-109 for Provodnikov.
Algieri said the only punch in the fight that hurt him was the first one. It was a doozy. It darkened his eye immediately. The eye continued to swell, but Algieri said he could still see through it well until the eighth round. By the 12th and final round he was blind.
Algieri said he knew that Provodnikov was targeting his eye and he was able to anticipate many of his punches and evade them. “It probably looked bad to Ruslan, it probably looked like a big juicy steak to him. I could see it in his eyes to throw the left hook and so I could evade it.”
Algieri never gave up on himself, and round by round was throwing and landing more punches than Provodnikov, gaining back the points he was behind after the first 10-7 round. Algieri was smarter, quicker, more nimble and unpredictable, giving Provodnikov a lot to process. He made himself tougher and tougher to find. For a pressure fighter like Provodnikov, it was kryptonite.
Round by round, Algieri was also winning something nearly as important as the fight: the respect and admiration of fans who liked what they saw, a smart, skilled fighter who never gave up for a second and put on an entertaining contest. He won long before the scores were announced.
Algieri may have been the only one who wasn’t surprised at the outcome. He was confident before the fight and he wore a big grin after the fight. When HBO’s Max Kellerman approached him for the post-fight interview, Algieri said, “Can I answer some of your questions, Max?”
Algieri said earlier in the week, he and his trainer were run off the road and nearly had a serious accident. “My heart rate didn’t even go up.” He said it didn’t go up walking into the ring. Algieri’s ability to stay cool helped him prevail.
Algieri, who has a master’s degree in nutrition, was a champion kickboxer in his younger days. He didn’t start boxing until age 23. Seven years later, with no amateur career and just 20 professional fights, he is a world champion and now a threat to everyone at junior welterweight and welterweight.
“I showed the boxing world who Chris Algieri is. It’s funny, I have not thought past this day, this moment, for months.” He pointed to the WBO title belt over his shoulder, and said “As heavy as this damn thing is, I can’t even feel it.”
Provodnikov said after the knockdown, he was trying to land a big punch. “I have to admit, runners are not my style … This was the worst style for me. I like guys that stand there and fight me. I thought it was close, but this is what happened.
“He did a good job. The most important thing I think is, as I promised, I gave an exciting fight. The fans were not sleeping in the seats, I did what I promised.”
Later during the post-fight news conference, Provodnikov’s trainer Freddie Roach admitted that his fighter could have gone to the body more, but he was looking for the knockout. Provodnikov said “I was the only one who made this fight exciting,” and called for a rematch. Algieri now has numerous options in two weight classes and shouldn’t be so quick to take the bait.
CompuBox numbers showed Algieri landing 288 of 993 punches and Provodnikov landing 205 of 776 punches, a 29 to 26 percentage connect rate. Algieri landed 177 power punches, 13 more than Provodnikov, and also at a higher connect rate.
As a fighter, Provodnikov is a hammer, and every opponent is a nail. Algieri brought a much better equipped toolkit to Saturday’s fight and it served him well. It’s why the boxing cliché “styles make fights” always rings true.
On the undercard, the favorite prevailed as WBO light middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade (21-0-0, 14 KOs) of Rhode Island had little trouble with Brian Rose of England (25-2-1, 7 KOs), getting a stoppage in the seventh round.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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