The fight has “Fight of the Year” potential and is arguably the most exciting fight currently on the boxing schedule.
On paper, Matthysse-Provodnikov looks like a can’t-miss, surefire action fight between two heavy-handed bangers with a penchant for trading with their opponents. This fight seems to boast a fighter meeting a mirror image of himself.
Matthysse, 32, of Argentina is 36-3 with 34 knockouts. He has won his last two bouts, one being THE RING magazine 2014 “Fight of the Year” against John Molina, when he picked himself off the canvas twice early on, before roaring back to stop Molina in the penultimate round. Most recently “La M├íquina” took Roberto Ortiz’s unbeaten record, knocking the Mexican out in two rounds.
Provodnikov, 31, hails from Russia and is currently 24-3 with 17 KOs. He has gone 2-2 in his last four outings, losing a razor-thin decision against Tim Bradley that garnered the RING 2013 “Fight of the Year”, but rebounded, bludgeoning Mike Alvarado to win the WBO 140-pound strap. “The Siberian Rocky” lost the belt in his first defense, by close decision to Chris Algieri, though got back to winning ways last December when he beat shopworn Jose Luis Castillo, stopping the veteran in five rounds.
Although most perceive the fight to be an even pick, online gambling group bet365 lists Matthysse as a slight favourite at 8/11 (-138), while Provodnikov is listed at 11/10 (+110).
RingTV.com asked 20 boxing insiders for their picks:
Chris Algieri, junior welterweight
I’d say its a pick ’em fight. If Matthysse decides to stand in front and brawl with Provodnikov, I see Provodnikov winning. If Matthysse uses his jab and some footwork, he can make it a long night for Ruslan. Either way, I see a great action fight.
Joel Diaz, Tim Bradley’s trainer
Ruslan Provodnikov to beat Lucas Matthysse: I talk about that fight every day. That is a great fight. That is one of the best fights you are gonna see this year. I think it’s gonna be fight of the year. I think Lucas Matthysse has devastating power, as well as Ruslan Provodnikov. I know Ruslan because Tim Bradley fought him. At the same time, this fight is going to rely on who can take the hardest punch; they can both hit. In my opinion, I think Ruslan can take a better punch.
If Lucas Matthysse wants to go to war with Provodnikov, he’s gonna get hurt because you saw John Molina dropped him a couple of times. I think Ruslan takes a better punch. They can both hit but who takes the hardest punch? If Lucas Matthysse was training with me – he trained with us before the Danny Garcia fight. He was a great boxer – if he can box and not let Ruslan establish his punches, anybody can beat Ruslan as long as you move, you can beat him. If you start to punch with him, that is the worst mistake. If Lucas Matthysse uses his great boxing ability, he will beat Ruslan. At the end of the day, I think Ruslan wins this fight.
Lucas Matthysse UD 12 Ruslan Provodnikov: In what promises to be a war of attrition, Matthysse’s edge is a three-inch advantage in reach. But it only works with a patient implementation of punches that land with precision against an incoming Ruslan Provodnikov, who will initiate his “Bombs Away” attack in the opening moments.
If Matthysse does exactly that, he’ll survive the early assault long enough to then punish Provodnikov, who has a habit of tiring in later rounds. If the Argentine doesn’t, he’ll find himself at the wrong end of a punishing stoppage.
Lucas Matthysse SD12 Ruslan Provodnikov: How do you pick a winner when Godzilla fights Mechagodzilla? Expectations are understandably high for this creature feature and it’s not hard to see why. Both fighters pack power and seem to enjoy wreaking havoc. My gut tells me that Lucas Matthysse is a little bit better technically but that Ruslan Provodnikov can take more abuse before folding or falling. “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots” this will be from the opening bell. If both guys have to get up from knockdowns, don’t be too surprised. When the dust settles, boxing will have its first proper “Fight of the Year” candidate for 2015 and Matthysse will have a close split decision win after staggering to the finish line under assault from a late Provodnikov rally.
Lucas Matthysse SD12 Ruslan Provodnikov: I know that I’m taking a chance on this one going the distance but there is method to the madness.
Firstly, neither man has been stopped and, secondly, in previous battles between balls-to-the-wall power punchers, it has been known for the combatants to approach each other with an air of caution.
I think this one starts a little slower than expected, builds momentum and explodes down the stretch when there is doubt over who’s winning. I lean toward Matthysse because he’s a better technician but I expect one judge to vote for Provodnikov.
Lucas Matthysse TKO Ruslan Provodnikov: Matthysse remains a class or two above Provodnikov, who finally showed his potential during his battle with Tim Bradley and title win over Mike Alvarado. While we saw Matthysse lose against Danny Garcia and downed by John Molina, I think he’ll come off the canvas once again, swell up Provodnikov’s face and bring a mercy stoppage late in the bout.
Ruslan Provodnikov TKO 9 Lucas Matthysse: This is about as fun of a pick ’em fight in boxing as there possibly can be. This is a potential FOTY candidate, where it’s highly unlikely that both fighters make it to the final bell. This pick is based more on Matthysse’s fight with John Molina Jr. more than anything else. Provodnikov has the sturdier chin and might punch a wee bit harder than his adversary. Chris Algieri used movement and a long jab to beat Provodnikov; Matthysse possesses neither. And if Molina can put down Matthysse, I anticipate that “The Siberian Rocky” will be able to do the same and score an exciting, late-round stoppage.
Mauricio Herrera, junior welterweight
Ruslan Provodnikov KO Lucas Matthysse: I think it’s gonna be a great fight. I know both guys are the real hungry. I see Ruslan taking this fight and maybe even stopping Matthysse. Ruslan’s the real deal. He goes in with everything. He’s no joke. After watching some of Matthysse’s fight with Molina, I just see Ruslan being faster and stronger and I know Matthysse is gonna wanna trade with him and when you look at anyone who trades with Ruslan, even the ones that came out winning came out looking like they lost. It’s gonna be tough for Matthysse. He’s also been knocked down by Danny [Garcia]. I think it’s gonna be a tough fight for him. I think Provodnikov will win by stoppage. He’s relentless, I think he’s real hungry with what happened in the [Chris] Algieri fight. It can be early or it can be late; I think Matthysse is going to find out real quick and I don’t know if he can keep Ruslan off him.
John David Jackson, Trainer of Chris Algieri
That is a fan-favorite fight. There is more offense and a little amount of defense. I think Matthysse is a better defensive fighter; Provodnikov is a brawler, mauler-type guy. He has good boxing skills as far a being able to walk a guy down but, late in the fight, his stamina diminishes. It’s interesting to see what type of pace is set in this fight and Matthysse has to weather the early storm but he can punch, himself. Maybe he catches Provodnikov and hurts him early and gets him out. They’re both tremendous punchers, so it’s not that Provodnikov is the bigger, better puncher. I think he throws crisper shots early on.
This fight may play out who is the better conditioned down the stretch. That’s the one way Chris [Algieri] was able to beat Provodnikov; he was in better condition, so after about round four, his body wasn’t ready to go the full 12-round distance at the pace that Chris had set for him. Can Matthysse do the same thing for [Provodnikov]? Can he be the more conditioned fighter on the night and stand the early onslaught, that Provodnikov’s gonna come at him with and then, down the stretch, outpoint him? It’s a toss-up. Will Matthysse box or say, “What the heck?” and just match him punch for punch, which might be his undoing early, down the stretch? He might prevail as the better fighter. It’s an intriguing fight how it plays it out. I can’t figure a winner out; that one’s a pick em’. I think one of them will get the other out, I don’t think this fight is going the distance.
Ray Mancini, former WBA lightweight titist
Lucas Matthysse PTS Ruslan Provodnikov: I think Matthysse beats him on decision because Matthysse has a little more ability to box. He can box; he can punch. Provodnikov is one way, steady, straightforward. I think, in this case, Matthysse might have too many guns. Chris Algieri showed against Provodnikov, give him a little movement and he has problems. And Matthysse has the ability to box and I think it’ll be effective boxing and he’ll outpoint Provodnikov.
Lucas Matthysse TKO 9 Ruslan Provodnikov: A dream match-up, indeed. Matthysse is a natural KO artist reaching his absolute physical AND psychological peak. He was not totally focused on some of his earlier fights in the US but the usually moody Argentine seems aware of the importance of this challenge and is increasingly comfortable fighting abroad. Provodnikov, for all of his prowess, always seems to find a way to fall short along the way in some of his most important fights. It will be a bloody slugfest while it lasts but I expect Matthysse to score a late stoppage or a solid decision.
Lucas Matthysse to beat Ruslan Provodnikov: Let’s cut to the chase; the fans are the real winners in this match-up! It has been my assertion for a while that Matthysse is undervalued as a boxer because his punching power shines so brightly. Given the pair is evenly matched otherwise – Matthysse does have a three-inch reach advantage – it comes down to skill and adaptability. I still view Provodnikov as undefeated, his official setbacks due to questionable judging, but also because he did not have a Plan B when things began to get close. Matthysse is the more versatile boxer and has the better feet that will win him the fight based on lateral movement and punching off that. Provodnikov will get his shots in but will never be able to cut off the ring and thus walk into shots and consistently reach or follow with his punches instead of leading with them. It will be Matthysse by decision or a stoppage due to swelling since this is a scheduled 12-rounder.
Lamont Peterson, former IBF junior welterweight titlist
Lucas Matthysse KO Ruslan Provodnikov: I see Matthysse winning easy; he’s a much better technical fighter. Both guys are strong and come to fight. I just think, to me, Provodnikov fights for excitement. He don’t fight to win; he fights for excitement and Matthysse fights to win. He’s going to win because his punches are a little shorter. Of course Provodnikov will look to go to war and they both will go to war but I just think Matthysse’s shots will come a little shorter and sharper and he’ll beat him to the punch more times than he’ll lose. Eventually [Matthysse] wears him down; it’s a late-round stoppage.
Lucas Matthysse TKO 11 Ruslan Provodnikov: Fight of the year? Could be. Provodnikov is a beast. He can still be outboxed but that’s not surprising since his game is all about brawling. He hits extremely hard and has a chin of granite.
Matthysse has won his last two bouts after losing to Danny Garcia. His fight with John Molina was a give-and-take affair, with Matthysse outlasting Molina over 11 brutal rounds. He was floored twice in that fight.
Provodnikov will want Matthysse to fight like he did against Molina, stand in the pocket and rumble. Matthysse probably will in spots but he’ll also box. By the fifth round, Provodnikov’s face will be puffy. Matthysse might get buzzed again but I see him winning the fight by an 11th round stoppage.
Viktor Postol, junior welterweight contender
Ruslan Provodnikov to beat Lucas Matthysse: Provodnikov and Matthysse are two strong punchers; the fight is going to be remarkable. Will root for Ruslan.
Jose Ramirez, junior welterweight
Ruslan Provodnikov KO Lucas Matthysse: It’s going to be a very fan-friendly fight. It’s going to be two guys just putting pressure. Ruslan Provodnikov is the guy I’ve been working with and training right next to at the Wild Card. He’s a guy that keeps coming forward. You can hit him but he just keeps coming forward. He’s a very tough guy, a guy that throws a lot of punches.
Lucas Matthysse, he’s another warrior. He’s strong, tough fighter from Argentina who throws punches from different angles, especially that chopping right hand. It’s very effective. I think it’ll be a tough fight for both of them.
I’m rooting for Ruslan Provodnikov because he’s a guy that we’re from pretty much the same trainer and working at the same gym. Ruslan will win; if it’s a stoppage, it will be in the late rounds.
Matt Richardson, Fightnews.com
Ruslan Provodnikov KO Lucas Matthysse: This may be the best pure action fight on paper currently available in boxing. At worst, it’s in the top three or four. As such, to make a prediction with any kind of certainty is a fool’s errand. Anything can and probably will happen in this fight. With that being said, however, judging on their recent performances, I’d lean toward Provodnikov. He just seems to be a sturdier guy to me and his chin is better. He’s always going to have trouble against movers like Chris Algieri but Matthysse is not exactly going to be sticking and moving. He’s going to be right there exchanging shots. As exciting as Matthysse’s fight with John Molina was last year, it also showed all of his limitations. That was a brutal fight that seemed to knock all the fight out of Molina. There’s a good chance it did the same to Matthysse. After a vicious few rounds of back and forth action, I expect Provodnikov to break through and stop Matthysse toward the end of a brutal, bloody fight. Provodnikov in nine.
Cliff Rold, BoxingScene.com
Ruslan Provodnikov KO Lucas Matthysse: Matthysse is a better boxer but does that even matter here? Both guys get hit and Matthysse will be discouraged when the Russian keeps coming and hits him back harder than anyone else has.
Michael Rosenthal, THE RING Magazine
Lucas Matthysse UD 12 Ruslan Provodnikov: Fun, fun fight. I love Provodnikov’s fighting spirit but Matthysse has the same spirit and superior skills. I think the Argentine will get the better of inevitable firefights, wear Provodnikov down and either become the first to stop the Russian or win a clear decision. Matthysse UD.
Jessie Vargas, junior welterweight
Ruslan Provodnikov PTS 12 Lucas Matthysse: That one’s a great fight. I think Provodnikov by decision but it could go either way. I think Provodnikov will have the edge.
Final tally: 10-8 with two undecided, in favor of Lucas Matthysse to win Saturday’s junior welterweight showdown against Ruslan Provodnikov.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at www.twitter.com/AnsonWainwright