On Thursday, Banner Promotions sent out a press release announcing that Joel Diaz had been named as the new trainer for former WBO light welterweight champion Ruslan Provodnikov. Diaz was a lightweight contender in the 1990s, before he was forced to retire with a detached retina, but he is currently one of boxing’s most high-profile trainers.
He is most well known for his work with Timothy Bradley, although the two parted ways earlier this year. But Diaz handles a stable of promising fighters. The announcement that he would be working with Provodnikov came as he was in Manchester, England to work the corner for Diego Magdaleno’s challenge against WBO lightweight champion Terry Flanagan. He also works with 2008 Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz, who will face Lamont Peterson later this month, and Diego De La Hoya, the cousin of boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya.
Known as The Siberian Rocky, Provodnikov is as tough and rugged as the brutal Siberian winters that forged him. In March 2013, he lost to Timothy Bradley in what I consider the best fight of the past five years. Provodnikov nearly knocked Bradley out in the first, second and 12th rounds and Bradley took months to recover. The following October, Provodnikov demolished Mike Alvarado in 10 Rounds to seize the WBO light welterweight belt.
Until now, Provodnikov’s trainer has been Freddy Roach, the most recognizable coach in the sport. His move to Diaz comes less than a week after Roach’s fighter, Viktor Postol, claimed the WBC 140-pound belt by knocking out Lucas Matthysse, just six months after Matthysse beat Provodnikov via split decision in a 12-round war that might very well win 2015 Fight of the Year honors.
Despite his undeniable heart and offensive power, Provodnikov has struggled with fighters who move well. I thought he deserved to win against Chris Algieri in 2014, but the fact that the fight was close enough to go either way was due to the difficulty Provodnikov had cutting off the ring.
In this video, Diaz talked about the need to work on that with Provodnikov, also noting that he feels Provodnikov has good head movement, but doesn’t really counter well enough off from it.
An announcement for Provodnikov’s next fight is expected soon.