On June 11, Ruslan Provodnikov returns to the site of his memorable 2015 clash with Lucas Matthysse, as he faces John Molina in his Showtime debut. I have covered a lot of fights at Turning Stone, which is one of the premier smaller venues in the Northeast. I’ve never seen anything there like the atmosphere for Provodnikov vs. Matthysse. The press section was packed and at the ringside, the roar of the crowd sounded like the rumble of a mighty storm coming across the water.
There should be a similar atmosphere for Molina vs. Provodnikov, because this is another can’t-miss fight. Molina knocked down Matthysse twice before getting stopped by him in 2014, in one of the top Fight of the Year candidates for that year. Molina has lost three of his last four fights and five of his last nine, but against a come-forward fighter like Provodnikov, he’s guaranteed to at least turn in a very game effort. He’s a guy who can punch with power, and Provodnikov will be there to get hit.
Provodnikov took his majority decision loss to Matthysse hard. Even though he turned in a heroic effort, he struggled to hold his head high after the verdict and apologized to his fans, even though, as HBO’s Jim Lampley rightly assured him, he had nothing to apologize about.
This will be Provodnikov’s second fight with new trainer Joel Diaz, the man who developed Timothy Bradley into a top star. The Siberian Rocky’s determination and physical strength mean he’s never really out of it in a fight. Even his thrilling 2013 loss to Bradley was razor close, as he nearly stopped Bradley on three different occasions.
Still, he’s always had trouble with fighters who can use movement. Matthysse, a true gunslinger in most of his bouts, was able to win by using just a little bit of jab and lateral movement. Expect to see Molina, a longer fighter, to use a similar approach.