By Jack Price @PriceyJ97
A boxing beast may have been born earlier this year on March 16th when Ruslan Provodnikov entered the ring with WBO welterweight world champion Timothy Bradley and dished out the performance of his career. Or maybe the beast had been alive and ready for years just waiting for the opportunity to feed.
Well anyway, boxing has found a new unlikely star in 'The Syberian Rocky' Ruslan Provodnikov, who last night achieved his lifelong dream of becoming champion of the world. Provodnikov, now 23-2, with 16 KO's, burst onto the scene back in March when he played his part in what was an incredible fight with Timothy Bradley - A fight that looks set to be awarded 'Fight Of The Year.' The Russian wasn't victorious in this fight, but he more than made a name for himself with his exciting Rocky-like style that pushed Bradley to the limit.
That performance earned him another world title shot at his natural weight. Mike Alvarado, who was involved in another FOTY contender with Brandon Rios in March, returned to his hometown of Denver to defend his WBO light-welterweight title. Provodnikov was more than happy to take the opportunity, and he seized it with another career-best performance.
With these two fighters in the ring, we were guaranteed a war at some point, but Alvarado attempted to box smart in the early rounds. This caused Provodnkiov problems at first but it was just a matter of time until the 29-year old started to take control. After a 50/50 first 6 rounds, Alvarado was just ahead on most scorecards, however from this point onward it was all downhill for the Denver-native. Prodonikov, showing a lot more patience and smartness than in the Bradkey fight, began to systematically break down his opponent. And as much as he tried, Alvarado just couldn't keep him away. Alvarado went down for the first time at the start of the 8th after being pummeled to the floor and then once more at the end of the round. He did manage to stay on his feet, incredibly, in the 9th and the 10th but he was taking way too much punishment. It was all one-way traffic in Provodnikov's favor and Alvarado retired in his corner at the end of the 10th.
Provodnikov is now in a fantastic position - Arguably one of the best in boxing. He's a fan-friendly fighter with an exciting style, with a world title around his waste. That's the perfect combination for promoters and television networks. I can think of so many exciting fights out there for him at 140 & 147 right now. At the moment he's not tied down to a specific network. He's signed with Banner Promotions so he's got the best of both worlds, being able to fight anyone at Top Rank or Golden Boy.
Who should he face next? Well the main one that the fans seem to be craving for is a fight with Brandon Rios. Now, whether Rios loses or wins against Pacquiao, this is an incredible fight for early next year. Both men refuse to take a step back, pack a punch and have incredible chins. 'World War 3' is how i would describe that fight. But really, there's so many potential mouth-watering fights out there for him. We're spoiled for choice. Garcia, Matthysse, Peterson, Bradley rematch, Rios, Pacquiao, Broner/Maidana, Thurman - I'd be excited by all of those fights, and that#s just off the top of my head.
Alvarado obviously deserves respect and credit for playing his part in this war, but Provodnikov is the man that everyone's raving about right now, and for a good reason. He's grown even stronger from that Bradley fight, showing clear improvements technically and conditionally. Expect the beast to grow even stronger again and start eating up more of these light-welters and welters!