Wednesday, March 22, 2023  |



Provodnikov and Matthysse: Starving for violence

It’s just another indignity heaped upon these proud warriors, a flippant slap in the face to men used to shrugging off such arrows with grace and courage: A media luncheon unfolded on Tuesday at the Italian eatery Ecco in Manhattan and the two men for whom the gathering was held were not able to participate in the chewing and slurping offered by the media in attendance. Well-aged Parmesan, silky salami, chicken parm, fish or steak, all these morsels were made available – but not to Ruslan Provodnikov and Lucas Matthysse, the 140-pound pugilists set to square off on Saturday evening at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in upstate Verona, NY and on HBO.
But you don’t think the fighters were grousing about the fact, do you? If you did, then you aren’t familiar with these two specimens. They are throwbacks; you won’t hear them talk about skills paying the bills or about winning on this night and looking good later. No, “The Siberian Rocky” sees his lot in life in some of the same ways Sylvester Stallone has. As Provodnikov told me, he knows full well that fans are paying good money to see him try to do his thing, trying to knock the Argentine’s head off its base, and thus, he seeks to do his damnedest to comply and to leave them satisfied customers.

And Matthysse, he didn’t so much as glare or stare as keyboard tappers and videographers cut and stabbed and chewed, while promoter Artie Pelullo (of Banner Promotions, Ruslan’s crew) and the team from Golden Boy Promotions, who handles “The Machine,” worked the room and talked up a scrap which is being spoken of as a surefire “Fight of the Year” contender.

He told me that if things go to form, indeed, the scrap will likely live up to expectations. No, he didn’t want to offer a prediction, but – and he allowed himself a tiny grin – he has pictured himself knocking out the Siberian.

Both boxers told me they knew from a very young age what they were destined to do: Fight. That would be their lot in life. Both understand if the masses don’t understand, can’t understand, what it is they do. They know that the multitudes aren’t built like them, mentally or physically.

They say styles make fights and that is often the case. But in this case, I see it more this way: Mindsets make fights and the points of view possessed by Provodnikov and Matthysse on what makes a prizefighter, and how business should be handled inside the squared circle, will likely make the Saturday scrap an ebb-and-flow special. This will be a Wall Street special, with trading galore, and both men will leave ample bodily fluids, sweat and blood on that canvas. That canvas will quite possibly show a masterpiece on Saturday night, the sort only boxing can deliver. The ingredients will also include courage and strength of body and will. You might just want to poke your pals, the ones who rarely watch boxing, and have them watch this one, recommend if they are to watch one bout this year, they choose this one – yep, maybe even over that big one taking place on May 2. Because the two men involved are fighters, in the best sense of the word, and they know what they are there to do, and what the people like. HBO, Saturday night, throwback athletes, clear on their mission: Separate the other man from his senses and prove you are the better man. And afterward, hug your foe in appreciation of his effort. It could and should be the best of what boxing can offer, my friends.



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