Ruslan Provodnikov Loses 1st Title Defense To Chris Algieri

So many details of Siberian boxer Ruslan Provodnikov’s life became public domain last month with the release of HBO’s intimate 2 Days documentary, which chronicled the 48 hours leading up to his World Boxing Organization junior welterweight title defeat over Mike Alvarado in Brooklyn.

Boxing fans felt like they knew more than enough to properly root for the 30-year-old known as the Siberian Rocky. Like: a big plate of raw moose liver makes him feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Or: sniffing glue and gargling vodka were the go-to buzzes for a child growing up in poverty. And who knows anyone else who sometimes recites poetry in Russian on his walks to the ring?

But what no one knew on Saturday night was how Provodnikov (23-3, 16 KOs) would fall so quickly from the top. Although he knocked down contender Chris Algieri (19-0, 8 KO) not once but twice in the first round, sealing shut Algieri’s eye in the process, Provodnikov seemed to have used up much of his ammunition.

From the fourth round until the end of the 12th, Algieri, also 30, used the shifty legs of an ex-kickboxer to outmaneuver Provodnikov and land a narrow decision: 114-112, 114-112 and 109-117.

“I congratulate Chris Algieri and I have nothing more to say,” a humbled and winded Provodnikov said in his brief ring interview.

Later, he explained his view of the fight to HBO, via Bleacher Report:

“Runners are not my style. 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.”

It’s a similar style to that which Tim Bradley took in his decision victory over Provodnikov in March 2013, the fight just before Provodnikov seized the title from Alvarado. Although Bradley won, Provodnikov came with the fireworks, even knocking him down in the very last round. That 12-round barnstormer early last year was such a stellar display of heart and skill that it won the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier Fight of the Year award from the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Few would nominate Saturday night’s fight for such an award. After the fight, Algieri, a Long Island native, said Provodnikov’s early domination gave Algieri a giant puffed-up target for an eye to defend for the rest of the fight, but that might have been what made Provodnikov’s punches a little easier to defend:

“The shots I was getting hit with in the first four rounds they were big, but they were lunging shots,” he said. “The only shot that hurt me was the first one. 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.”

Though Provodnikov continued to barrel forward, Algieri showed in the second round that his legs and precision had the needed staying power, throwing and landing more shots than his opponent.

After the fight, Algieri was so in the present that he couldn’t answer a question about what the future might hold:

“I showed the boxing world who Chris Algieri is, but it’s funny: I have not thought past this one day for months. I don’t even know what June 15 is going to look like.”

For Provodnikov, a lot of second-guessing will dominate his coming days. In April, when his fight with Algieri was announced, he came out in the media about wanting fights against bigger names than Algieri. He told ESPN:

“I am focusing on a shorter, more prominent career; I only want the big fights, the fights the fans want to see. I want to make an impact and leave. I do not want to out-stay my welcome in boxing. Money has never been my primary goal. I want to make the most out of my abilities to be my best in the ring. The respect of the fans and my achievements mean more to me than a title belt.”

While that may be true, Provodnikov surely wanted to wear it longer than that.

[Image by Round By Round Boxing]

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