SAN DIEGO, June 14, 2014 – Ruslan Provodnikov knows how to make boxing fans happy. He’s a crowd-pleasing performer who loves to put the pressure on. If he takes a few punches in the process, so be it. He is a living, breathing example of the saying, “What does not kill me, makes me stronger.”
Provodnikov (23-2, 16 KOs) gets into the ring for the first time in 2014 to face undefeated Chris Algieri (19-0, 8 KOs) of Long Island, New York at Algieri’s home turf, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The fight will air on HBO at 10 p.m. ET.
Provodnikov’s rough childhood growing up in Siberia has become part of his backstory, earning him the nickname “The Siberian Rocky.” He is proud of overcoming the hardships born of poverty in such a harsh environment. Boxing was his way out, and his family’s way out.
Provodnikov’s lack of English language skills doesn’t prevent him from communicating with fans. He’s expressive, letting out a roar or wagging his tongue a la Miley Cyrus, as he did at today’s weigh-in. Both fighters made weight, Algieri at 140 pounds and Provodnikov at 139.8 pounds.
Provodnikov burst onto the top tier of boxing in the 2013 Fight of the Year, a war of attrition won (barely) by Timothy Bradley Jr. Provodnikov followed it up with a thrashing of a tough Mike Alvarado in October when Alvarado retired after ten rounds.
Eight months later, Provodnikov will try to energize his fans on his biggest stage yet in Brooklyn. He had hoped to be in the ring sooner against a better-known opponent, perhaps someone like Juan Manual Marquez. But that fight didn’t happen, so he’ll gladly fight an opponent like Algieri to get back in front of the HBO audience, and put on the kind of show he knows they love.
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t know Chris Algieri’s name – at least not from boxing. Algieri originally pursued competition in other combat sports. He became a professional full-contact kickboxer while in college, and won the ISKA world welterweight title in 2007. Algieri switched to boxing because of the greater earning potential and had his first professional boxing bout in 2008.
Algieri hasn’t fought outside New York State. This will be his first appearance on such a big stage. Algieri knows he’s considered the underdog against the well-liked Siberian sensation, but in interviews he’s expressed great confidence in his ability to pull off a surprise.
Algieri has a considerable edge in height (5-10 to Provodnikov’s 5-6), and he’s a tactical boxer who doesn’t see any need to get hit if it isn’t completely necessary. He will try to employ those skills to avoid the worst Provodnikov can dish out. This is a tall order. With a relentless competitor like Provodnikov who knows only one speed, pedal to the metal, it will be difficult to avoid the kind of pressure he puts on opponents.
Provodnikov hopes to make a good showing to get that bigger name opponent he’s been looking for. Due to boxing’s promotional Cold War, the biggest opponent in his sights is his fellow Wild Card Gym fighter Manny Pacquiao. Freddie Roach trains both Pacquiao and Provodnikov, and Provodnikov has been Pac Man’s sparring partner on numerous occasions. It’s a little close to home. It seems doubtful Roach would let a fight like this happen.
First things first, Provodnikov needs to light up Brooklyn. Last week, the boxing world expected another favorite to win in New York, and we all know what happened.
If you missed the impressive win by Miguel Cotto over Sergio Martinez last week, HBO will show a replay prior to the live fights from the Barclays Center. In addition to Provodnikov vs. Algieri, fans will see the WBO light middleweight title fight between Demetrius Andrade (20-0-0, 13 KOs) of Rhode Island and Brian Rose of England (25-1-1, 7 KOs).
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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