The week after Orlando Salido and Francisco Vargas battled to a draw in a Fight of the Year candidate, HBO will broadcast another bout with all the right ingredients, as Ruslan Provodnikov faces John Molina at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York, the site of Provodnikov’s majority decision loss to Lucas Matthysse in April 2014.
Stylistically, this two should combine for fire works. Provodnikov is a relentless, pressure fighter who only moves in one direction: forward. His 2013 fight with Timothy Bradley in 2013 might just have been the best fight of the past decade. His loss to Matthysse last year was a Fight of the Year finalist.
Molina is a fringe contender, but he’s an exciting one, with dangerous punching power. He lost nearly every round against Mickey Bey in 2013, before catching up to him in Round 10 and stopping him with just 59 seconds remaining in the fight. He had a similar comeback against Hank Lundy in 2010, knocking Hammering Hank out in Round 11 when he trailed far behind on all three cards.
Molina went to war with Matthysse in April 2014, knocking Matthysse down in Rounds 2 and 5 before finally succumbing to the Argentine gunslinger via Round 11 KO.
Molina followed his loss to Matthysse with two more defeats against Humberto Soto and Adrien Broner. Molina struggles against guys who can box, but with a fighter like Provodnikov, who will unquestionably be there to hit, his punching power might give him a chance.
On the other hand, Provodnikov is a block of walking granite. He took the best Matthysse had to offer for 12 rounds and kept coming forward, working hard to the body. But Molina has never exactly been an easy fighter to stop, either. He’s been knocked out twice in his career–against Matthysse and when he was blitzed in Round 1 by Antonio DeMarco in 2012.
Provodnikov, although he’s as strong as perhaps any fighter in the world 147 pounds or lighter, does not have explosive punching power. So expect this bout to develop into a true test of wills. I do expect Provodnikov to inflict the heavier damage and perhaps win by late stoppage. It will be a bout that you won’t want to miss.