Photo by Miguel Salazar
With their aggressive styles and world-class punching power, Ruslan Provodnikov and Lucas Matthysse are likely going to hurt each other on Saturday night.
April 18 has been circled on a calendar as boxing fans have been salivating over the most anticipated fight of 2015 besides Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao.
Provodnikov seems to live for these types of fights: the fights where the combatants dig in the trenches and absorb an insane amount of punches just to land their punches.
It may not be technical or graceful, but Provodnikov loves to move forward and fight and fans get a kick out of these types of fights. Whether it was against Mauricio Herrera, Timothy Bradley or Mike Alvarado, Provodnikov’s fights are compelling and his showdown with Matthysse, at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, N.Y., has higher expectations that those previous bouts.
The fight, along with the Terence Crawford-Thomas Dulorme fight, will be televised live on HBO, beginning at 9:45 p.m. ET/ 6:45 p.m. PT.
Provodnikov (24-3, 17 knockouts) has enjoyed the limelight since then. It is a far cry from growing up in a small village in Siberia, where a young Provodnikov fought on the streets before a handful of people, not the thousands of fans in attendance or the millions who tune in on premium network television.
He faces a fighter in Matthysse, who has devastating punching power. Some wonder whether it is best for Provodnikov to go for the knockout early in the fight but the Russian has prepared himself for what could be 12 brutal rounds.
“This is the important fight to win,” Provodnikov told RingTV over the phone earlier this week through manager and interpreter Vadim Kornilov. “I prepared myself well in that I could fight 12 rounds and I could fight to a decision or a knockout.”
Provodnikov, who has never been knocked down, has not fought since Nov. 28, when he stopped Jose Luis Castillo in the fifth round in Moscow, Russia.
It took a while for Provodnikov to get over the decision in the Algieri fight but he has moved on and is focused at the task at hand against Matthysse. “I get added motivation from [the loss to] Algieri,” said Provodnikov, who is promoted by Banner Promotions. “I’m not worried about that anymore. I just have to worry about my upcoming fight and what I’m going to do.”
Provodnikov has benefitted from working with trainer Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, Calif. “Everything has worked out well [working with Roach]. He has enhanced my natural style in the ring without affecting it.”
Roach will not be in Provodnikov’s corner in Verona on fight night. Roach elected to remain in Hollywood to work with Manny Pacquiao, since the fight against Mayweather is two weeks away. Instead, Provodnikov will have trainer Marvin Somodio in his corner. A former fighter and an understudy of Roach, Somodio was in Provodnikov’s corner
when the Russian stopped Mike Alvarado in Oct. of 2013, while Roach was in the Philippines working with Pacquiao for the Brandon Rios fight.
“Ruslan has looked really good in camp,” Somodio recently told RingTV. “I just follow what Freddie tells me to do. It won’t be a problem.”
A win on Saturday could propel Provodnikov into another high-profile bout or a world title bout. While the fame and championship gold are what every fighter yearns for, Provodnikov seems to get a kick out of giving fight fans the compelling, back-and-forth action they desire.
While the Algieri loss may have humbled him, Provodnikov has added motivation going into his bout against Matthysse. “He’s a good, strong fighter who is dangerous. I have to be careful with him because he has power and could change the fight with one punch.
“But I’m 100 percent ready. I know I’m motivated and I will win.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Salazar also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing.