Ruslan Provodnikov: Provodnikov is the type of fighter with whom fans fall in love. The beast from the far, far east (Russia) is a born destroy-or-be-destroyed warrior who is willing to take two or three punches (or four or five) to give three or four (or five or six). Mike Alvarado learned that first-hand on Saturday night in Denver. Provodnikov ripped into the tough hometown boy – debilitating body shots, hard combinations to the head – until he had gone down twice in the eighth round and, his face a swollen mess and stomach aching, had no choice but call it quits after the ninth. It was as brutal as any demolition in recent years. How tough does Timothy Bradley look now? The victory, which gave Provodnikov (23-2, 16 knockouts) the WBO 140-pound title, not only earned new fans but he also became a major player between 140 and 147 pounds. He would seem to be the ideal candidate to face the winner of Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios. Who wouldn’t want to see that?
Mike Alvarado: There were no losers on Saturday, in one sense at least. Provodnikov had the night of his career. The crowd, both live and watching on TV, witnessed a tremendous show. And while Alvarado lost the fight, he certainly didn’t lose much respect. The loss was damaging. He had considerable momentum after his victory over Brandon Rios in their rematch, which gave him the WBO junior welterweight title. That’s gone. However, if the fight on Saturday is any indication, he has more than enough determination to regain what he has lost. Alvarado (34-2, 23 KOs) gave a courageous performance on Saturday. The body shots he took in the eighth were vicious. He kept fighting. He was clearly fighting on borrowed time in the ninth. He kept trying. And then, his body simply unable to give any more, he indicated to referee Tony Weeks that he had had enough. And he made no excuses in the post-fight interview. That’s what our favorite boxers do: fight their hearts out and don’t whine afterward.
The Provodnikov-Alvarado stoppage was appropriate. Alvarado was on the verge of being hurt badly. I don’t like the way it was stopped, though. Rudy Hernandez, Alvarado’s trainer, was trying to wave the white flag. Weeks should’ve listened to him. Or he should’ve recognized that Alvarado was finished and ended matters on his own. In other words, Weeks didn’t have to put Alvarado in a position where he had to quit by asking him directly whether he could fight on. There might be times when that’s appropriate. This wasn’t one of them. ÔÇª Carl Frampton (17-0, 12 KOs) is ready for bigger and better challenges after an easy sixth-round knockout of Frenchman Jeremy Parodi (35-2-1, 9 KOs) on Saturday in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Frampton’s hometown. ÔÇª Guillermo Jones lost his sanctioning-body cruiserweight title and Denis Lebedev, whom Jones knocked out in May, was reinstated after it was determined that Jones took diuretics. ÔÇª It’s good to see the affable and entertaining Juan Diaz (38-4, 19 KOs) back in the ring and winning fights. Diaz, who took almost three years off, is 3-0 in his comeback after outpointing journeyman Juan Santiago (14-11-1, 8 KOs) on the Provodnikov-Alvarado card. It will be interesting to see how the former lightweight titleholder does against the opponents on the next level.