While the entire sporting world looks ahead to May 2 and the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather super fight, hardcore boxing fans have not looked past April 18. That’s the date when light welterweights Lucas Matthysse and Ruslan Provodnikov face off at Turning Stone Casino, in Verona, New York. While Pacquiao and Mayweather is the fight fans have been waiting a half-decade for, Matthysse and Provodnikov seems like a sure bet not to disappoint.
On a March 30 media call, Provodnikov’s promoter, Artie Pelullo, spoke confidently about the coming encounter. “I think this fight has the potential to be like Corrales-Castillo I,” he said. “At the very least, it will be a memorable fight.”
The first fight between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo, fought in 2005, is widely viewed as the greatest bout of this century. There are middle-aged fans who call it the greatest fight they ever saw. It’s par for the course for a fight promoter to employ hyperbole. But when Pelullo talks about Provodnikov and Matthysse having the potential to match that legendary war, nobody rolls their eyes. It’s an entirely plausible scenario. The fight is already all but sold out.
Lucas Matthysse is the irresistible force and Ruslan Provodnikov is the immovable object. Matthysse is among the most relentless offensive talents in the sport. His professional record is 36-3 with 34 KOs. Two of his three losses came by disputed split decision, and in both of those fights, he knocked his opponent to the canvas.
Ruslan Provodnikov (24-3, 17 KOs) is from Siberia, which is perhaps the least hospitable inhabited place on the planet. He’s as rugged as the fierce winters that forged him. His March 2013 loss to Timothy Bradley was the most brutal battle of recent years. Three times during that fight Provodnikov had the pound-for-pound star all but knocked out. By Bradley’s own admission, it took him months to recover from the fight.
There are no titles on the line in this fight, but this one is bigger than alphabet soup belts. This is the fight both men wanted. According to Pelullo, it took all of about 30 minutes to negotiate the fight. On the March 30 media call, Provodnikov spoke with anxious anticipation about this being the sort of fight that gives him a chance to make history.
It’s all but a guarantee that this fight is going to be on the short list in December for the 2015 Fight of the Year. It’s quite likely this is going to be one of the battles that fans talk about for decades to come. If you’re a boxing fan, you can’t miss it.