Ruslan Provodnikov appears to have fought his way into a tough corner in the boxing world. While the Siberian star is one of the most popular active stars with American fans, he’ll be left to fight an obscure and untested opponent on November 7, and since the fight will take place in Monte Carlo, he’ll be far away from most American media.
In a press release from Banner Promotions on Tuesday, Provodnikov revealed that “six or seven opponents changed their minds about fighting me.” According to the press release, Amir Khan and Shawn Porter were among the fighters who opted for other choices.
It’s not hard to understand why top stars are hesitant to face the brickhouse-hard Russian. On the one hand, Provodnikov has shown limitations as a boxer. All four of his career losses were against very good fighters and he’s still a top-10 junior welterweight. But a fighter who is already well established will not necessarily gain a tremendous amount of additional prestige from beating Provodnikov. It will be a great win on the resume, but for a fighter who is already in the top five to 10, beating him won’t necessarily give them much of a bump.
And whatever bump it will give them will come at great risk. There may not be a fighter in the sport who is tougher to discourage than the Siberian Rocky. He’s as rugged as the brutal winters that forged him as a boy.
Provodnikov can take tremendous punishment while continuing to come forward, delivering his own. I could easily see Khan winning 10 rounds from Provodnikov and then finally getting knocked silly in the 11th or 12th.
And even if a fighter beats Provodnikov, it’s likely to come at a steep price. Timothy Bradley has spoken about feeling the effects of his brutal war with Provodnikov for months afterward. Chris Algieri escaped with a split decision against him, but had one eye completely closed by the time the final bell rang. While I am inclined to give the majority of the credit to Viktor Postol for his stunning knockout victory over Lucas Matthysse last month, it’s hard not to wonder if the war Matthysse won by majority decision over Provodnikov last April didn’t permanently change him.
Provodnikov is an exciting, all-action fighter who sells tickets. I was at his fight with Matthysse, at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona. It’s a venue I’ve been in many times and never seen an atmosphere close to what was created by the two of them matching up.
So there’s no question he’ll be back in the spotlight again. For now, he simply needs to go to Monte Carlo, take care of business, and then keep pressing on. It’s impossible to imagine him doing anything else.